Cook, Dhoni look for on-field statements
August 27, 2014
Start time 10.30am local (0930 GMT)
As countdowns for the World Cup go, neither England nor India can claim to have started in the best shape. While the rain tippled down in Bristol, washing out the first of five contests, there was enough aggravation off the field to occupy both sides.
It will not matter how gloomy the weather gets, Duncan Fletcher will be reluctant to remove his shades as he contends with a reshuffle which has seen Ravi Shastri imposed as team director with, it seems, a brief to assess Fletcher's performance ahead of the World Cup. MS Dhoni's assertion that Fletcher will definitely coach India in that World Cup is not universally shared, and with Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney on gardening leave, confusion abounds.
England have their own issues. Their squad for the ODI series was more conservative than many expected, influenced perhaps by the 3-1 Test series victory against India which removed their appetite for change. They seem determination to plan for the challenge ahead in Australia and New Zealand with the same captain, Alastair Cook, not known for rapid scoring at the top of the order, and a phalanx of fast bowlers to utilise the two white balls.
That has brought cries of protest from Graeme Swann, a celebrated England player of recent vintage, and Michael Vaughan, a former captain who is treading the path of another former Yorkshire and England batsman, Geoffrey Boycott, in his appetite for straight talking. Both chimed that Cook should have stood down in favour of younger batsmen with a greater capacity for power hitting.
England's ODI summer has become increasingly dogged by bad weather. The Bristol washout meant that the first ODI of the latter part of the summer was washed out for the third successive year. Headingley and Cardiff have also suffered.
Form guide (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Players to watch
Alex Hales has three centuries in his last three appearances for Nottinghamshire, to go with a century for England Lions against Sri Lanka A earlier this month. He has played 32 T20 internationals and is the only Englishman to make a hundred in the shortest format, and his rich domestic form will finally persuade England's selectors to abandon their doubts about his technique against the short ball.
Ajinkya Rahane has earned his place in the Test side with solid contributions in South Africa, New Zealand and England. ODIs have been a different story so far. He had one double-digit score in six innings in South Africa and New Zealand, although he made runs in Bangladesh after that. Runs in England could seal a middle-order spot at the World Cup. On the previous tour to England, in 2011, he was opening the batting.
Hales will make his delayed one-day debut as Cook's opening partner with Ian Bell dropping down to No. 3. The main doubt is whether England will field Gary Ballance or Joe Root at No 4, ahead of Eoin Morgan and either Ben Stokes or Moeen Ali, one of whom seems bound to play in the absence of Ravi Bopara. The unsettled weather makes an emphasis on seam likely.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Moeen Ali/Ben Stokes, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 James Anderson, 11 Harry Gurney
Shikhar Dhawan has the chance to put a miserable Test series behind him as he opens with Rohit Sharma. Suresh Raina was out of the ODI squad for a while, but returned as captain for the short tour to Bangladesh. He is expected to bat No. 5. India do not have Varun Aaron's pace for the ODIs, but Umesh Yadav is a capable replacement on that front.
India (probable) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Umesh Yadav
Pitch and conditions
Cardiff can provide grouchy batting surfaces when the weather is unsettled and the forecast, while not as terminal as Bristol, is none too optimistic. The Met Office predicts a dry and bright start with sunny spells, but winds will strengthen as the day progresses and rain is anticipated by early evening. Disruption to the second innings cannot be discounted.
Stats and trivia
- Cardiff has been well favoured since its elevation to an international venue, staging an Ashes Test, due to hold another in 2015, and selected as a joint host of last summer's Champions Trophy.
- India won the Champions Trophy in England last summer, but even allowing for that their record outside Asia and the West Indies is unimpressive with eight wins and 13 defeats since the last World Cup.
- The distance between Bristol and Cardiff is only 44 miles over the Severn Bridge (24 miles as the crow flies), which has led some to question the need for Bristol to have become England's tenth international ground.
- When the teams met on this ground in 2011, Virat Kohli hit a century but his thunder was stolen by Jonny Bairstow's debut innings of 41 off 21 balls which secured England a D/L victory.
"He is paid to give his opinions, and he is entitled to give those. We know as a side where we are at. We are comfy, ready to go and we are really looking forward to this series.''
Joe Root was not taking too much notice of Swann's comments
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo