Injured India still seeking elusive win
September 6, Rose Bowl
Start time 1400 (1300 GMT)
At Chester-le-Street on Saturday, and at the sixth time of asking, India's cricketers finally enjoyed the better of one of this season's international tussles with England. However, with England on the ropes at 27 for 2, chasing 275, the victory that MS Dhoni's men were surely anticipating was thwarted by the onset of grim autumnal weather, and the match finished as a dispiriting wash-out.
Now, 48 hours later, the squads have relocated from the country's northern-most venue to its most southerly, Hampshire's Rose Bowl, where the series resumes in earnest at 0-0 with four to play. India's resolve in the Durham opener was a timely reminder of the class they still exude in limited-overs cricket, even with an injury-ravaged squad that now includes Rohit Sharma, whose finger was broken by Stuart Broad on Saturday, and Sachin Tendulkar, who missed the match with a foot injury, and is flying home from the tour.
However, England will recognise the errors that they made in that opening contest, and besides, their captain, Alastair Cook did not accept the widely-held view that his team would have lost had the match been played to a conclusion. Certainly, after the start that they enjoyed, in which England's short-pitched approach was found out in a solid 82-run opening stand from Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane, India might have hoped to get closer to 300. However Tim Bresnan and the ever-improving Jade Dernbach regained a decent measure of control at the death.
It is with the bat that England have rather more to prove. Cook's own failure can be mitigated by the glut of runs he racked up in the ODI series against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, but it is his opening partner, Craig Kieswetter, who is looking more of a problem. His stiff-armed technique was mercilessly probed by the swing of Praveen Kumar, and a return of 6 from 19 balls was not what England required from such a devastating striker of a cricket ball.
A flatter track at the Rose Bowl could aid him in that respect, but with Kevin Pietersen rested for this series, and the youngster Ben Stokes still awaiting his first significant international innings, there's a shortage of proven power-hitting to bolster England's ambitions. If they want to be taken seriously as an ODI outfit - and that is one of Andy Flower's stated aims since reaching the Test No.1 status - then the opportunity to get one over the 50-over World Champions is not something that England will want to pass up.
Form guide(Most recent first)
In the spotlight
Eoin Morgan's one-day pedigree is not exactly in doubt, but as England start to build towards the 2015 World Cup, it is increasingly clear how central to their plans he is going to be. This season began with the quiet confirmation of his vice-captaincy role in the Twenty20 team, and continued in Dublin last week with his first experience of leadership - a hard-fought victory in which his 59 earned the Man of the Match award. As for the coming contest, no England batsman is more at home at the Rose Bowl. In three appearances, he's never made less than 43, and against Australia and Pakistan last summer, he bossed the games with a brace of brilliant unbeaten hundreds.
Praveen Kumar's joie de vivre was one of India's few redeeming features in the Test series, but in the 50-over format, his hard-to-handle swing bowling looks like adding another degree of menace, particularly in English conditions. He bowled four of India's 7.2 overs at Chester-le-Street, in which time he delivered 20 dot-balls and two key wickets, as neither Cook or Kieswetter found a viable method to negotiate him. With little pace on the ball, and substantial lateral movement to thwart any attempts at aggression, he has the ability to thrive in the Powerplay overs, so long as his impeccable line and length does not waver.
Graeme Swann ought to be fit for selection after fighting a virus at Chester-le-Street. Ben Stokes, who dropped a catch at gully in his only meaningful contribution to that match, is likely to be given another chance to stake his claim in the middle order.
England (possible) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Graeme Swann, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Jade Dernbach
Rohit Sharma's broken finger necessitates yet another middle-order rejig, although neither of the two batting replacements, Ravindra Jadeja nor Manoj Tiwary, have yet linked up with the squad, which means Amit Mishra - who impressed with the bat in the Test series - could feature. Tiwary could, at a pinch, be thrown into the game straight off his plane on Wednesday. Tendulkar's absence means Rahane stays at the top of the order
India (possible) 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Parthiv Patel, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Amit Mishra, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Munaf Patel, 11 R Vinay Kumar
Pitch and conditions
Clear skies for the preview day, but there's yet more rain forecast for the match itself. The pitch is hard and true, and potentially loaded with extra bounce, if the Sri Lanka Test is anything to go by.
Stats and trivia
- India have played two previous internationals at The Rose Bowl ... and the first came against Kenya in the Champions Trophy in 2004, when Rahul Dravid - the only survivor from that fixture - made 30 not out from 16 balls in a 98-run win
- England have played in six of the 12 ODIs at the venue, and have won four of them, including each of their last two games against Pakistan and Australia.
"There is no point me trying to become something I'm not. I have to play to my strengths. I have to pick the gap like I do in Test cricket."
Ian Bell wants to play his one-day cricket with the same poise that he has shown in Tests in recent months
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo