India v England, 3rd ODI, Mohali October 19, 2011

A four-point fightback plan for England

England's tour is quickly running out of steam, but there are a few options for them to change momentum

England have given themselves a mountain to climb in the one-day series against India after two thumping defeats in Hyderabad and Delhi. Most worryingly for the visitors the thrashings were handed out in different styles; in the first match it was the power of MS Dhoni and India's spinners, which is an understandable combination to a degree, but in the second game England were hoisted by their own petard as India's bustling pacers did the damage against a batting line-up that flattered to deceive.

A host of 30s and 40s don't win ODIs in the subcontinent, while getting angry in the middle, which happened as Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir built their 209-run stand, doesn't portray the team in a great light. This tour isn't - or shouldn't be - long enough for tempers to fray too much, but it was a sign that England were not dealing with the pressure.

They have one opportunity left to stay in the series and Mohali offers them a decent chance because the seamers can play a role at the northern venue. Still, it will take a big turnaround to ensure the final two ODIs are not just a quest to avoid a whitewash. Ian Bell is being touted for a recall, but his one-day record doesn't suggest he's the solution, so here are a few options for England to change the momentum.

Milk it

England's innings in Delhi included 173 dot balls, more than half the allocated overs, which showed that the batsmen struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over. One-day cricket doesn't have to be all about fours and sixes (although the absent Virender Sehwag may disagree) and when a field is set back outside the Powerplay overs, six or seven runs-per-over can be achieved by deft placement. Dhoni and Kohli, while they did pepper the boundary, gave perfect examples of how to work the gaps in a field. England's methods have reverted to a hint of block-or-bash which makes it easy for the opposition to set fields. A key part of milking an attack, though, is confident running between the wickets. England have a few dodgy runners - Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel - and that can sow seeds of doubt through the entire line-up.

Find your range

While working the singles is one method, if England's batsmen are eager to hunt the boundaries then it has to be done with conviction. They practise their range-hitting - standing in the middle of the ground and launching throw-downs into the stands - before most one-dayers, so they can build confidence in clearing the ropes. Throwing caution to the wind has been a success for them before, albeit in very different conditions, when they entered the 2009 Champions Trophy on the back of a 6-1 drubbing by Australia and proceeded to cut loose against Sri Lanka and South Africa. Led by Paul Collingwood's aggression they shed inhibitions and reached the semi-final where their method fell apart against Australia. That's the flip side; when it goes bad it can look ugly so be prepared to face the flak.

Take the chances

Being out-batted and out-bowled by India on home soil is one thing. England, though, have also been out-fielded. This isn't meant as a slight on India, who have improved hugely with the likes of Kohli, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja prowling the inner ring, but with the amount of work they put in, and specialist coaching available, England have few excuses for poor fielding, both on the ground and in the air. The tone for both their stints in the field was set by dropped catches - Jonathan Trott spilling Ajinkya Rahane in Hyderabad and Graeme Swann missing Parthiv Patel in Delhi - and though neither cost many runs it can filter through a performance.

Unleash the youngsters

A host of changes in the wake of defeat can be taken as a sign of panic, but it can also show a dose of realism. An unchanged team was given the chance to make amends in Delhi and came up well short. This is already a young England side, but more youthful players are waiting in the wings. Although Chris Woakes has flown home injured, the legspinner Scott Borthwick, and the fast bowler Stuart Meaker impressed in the warm-up matches. India won't have seen much of either of them, and are clearly getting quite used to the fare currently being served up. Jos Buttler, the Somerset keeper-batsman, is also an unofficial member of the touring party. There is nothing stopping England making him available for selection. It would be an admittance that things aren't going to plan but that's pretty plain to see anyway.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Simon on October 20, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    I'd argue using Borthwick in India is the perfect time to give him a go. Even if he gets knocled about a bit, he's able to get the experience and gain a knowledge of how hard it is going to be to be Englands second spinner. English players are not so frail nowadays so that if things are not going right for them they come up with excuses at the first opportunity to jump on the plane home! Plan A worked today in the batting, but still too many dots - and 10-20 of them could be all the difference if India hit top gear. Patel hits a classic 'do or get dropped' innings in true Colly style today. Well done, hope is bowling matches the batting!

  • Dummy4 on October 20, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    @landl47. I beg to differ wid u. Its a laughing stuff when u find excuse for not being gud in ODIs. - "England aren't a great ODI team because they are a very good test team".. U mean to say Aus/WI of past were gud only in a single format. Hussey,Sachin,Ponting,Dravid,Kallis to mention a few were all best batsman with technique and they succeed in both formats and to some ectent in T20s too.. In bowlers u hv McGrath,Warne,Murali,Zaheer,Steyn etc etc who can excel in any format of game. Its a lame excuse my dear mate. May b, u shud try having different teams for diff formats which will help u a lot as per ur logic. And btw, I like ur confidence in saying Eng will win TEST SERIES here.. Its just like my fellow Indians said before this Eng tour. Atleast Indians had a logic of bowling u out in bowler frndly conditions. Bt, U r missing any logic. Ur fast bowlers cant bowl Ind twice. Bt, r u confident enuf to chase 200+ in a Indian fifth day pitch against Ind spinners. Must think b4 u write.

  • Nitin on October 20, 2011, 8:09 GMT

    5th point- Bat ,field and bowl well!

  • Nitin on October 20, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    Unleashing borthwick in India will be one of the biggest mistakes by England if they do so.As far as parthiv is concerned I strongly believe he is one guy who will play a smashing innings once in 10 matches, his 95 against england and then 6 consecutive failures (agreed once he was out due to rahane's shot) and an average of 25 suggests it.. Parthiv is not the future of indian cricket, since dhoni will comfortably play for next 5-6 years..and by that time parthiv will be 32..we need to promote the large pool of batting talent waiting in the wings..utthappa,manoj tiwary,saurabh tiwary(guy with the highest list-A batting avg among the fellow batsmen)..dhawan and mukund..these guys should get chances...

  • Naresh on October 20, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    Todays game should be a real thriller. England will definetely coming out with all guns blazing. India will try and seal the series here and now. Whatever the outcome it will be good - remember YOU WIN SOME AND YOU LOSE SOME. Lets enjoy the game as fans and forget about blasting each other. These last two series between the two has been just that. Maybe acceptance that both teams are good in their own fields and spheres is what is required. Writing India off as worse than Bangledesh and Zimbabwe was really infuriating. India should also remember that they got pasted in TESTS in UK. This just goes to show that both teams are oozing with talent.

  • Pratik on October 20, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    To be very frank England, Haven't done enough to be so called Champs, Yes they are being no.1 side at moment and they deserve this, Yes they have won in Australia, but i would like to see how they will perform when they will go to SA, India, SL or even NZ. Best Luck for that i cant wait them to visit above countries for Test series.

  • ashok on October 20, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    Lack of preparation is what is causing pain... England are a good side like India, but how India failed in England is the same as to why England are failing in India. Playing with a moving ball is tough I agree, but when the ball comes nicely on to the bat like in England, it may have been easy, but not in pitches like in India, where things are little slow... I wonder how will they play in Chennai pitch, where the pitch is slow, humid and the ball too spins and turns meters...

  • suresh on October 20, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    Yes! i must say that Fletcher's influence is showing. When he went to England with the Indian Team, he had hardly time to get to know the Players. I certainly do believe, that before he is finished, he will have a fine , fresh and exciting lot of Players playing for India

  • Rahul on October 20, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    Dear Mr.Andrew you can make the fight back plan in 4 or 40 points but the truth of the matter is we couldn't teach our batsmen how to cope good accurate fast bawling in English conditions and Poms wont be able to learn to face decent spin on subcontinent overnight. As MSD stated in his post match interview, Ïn India spinning wickets are sporting wickets"!

  • John on October 20, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    I would certainly agree with point 1, i.e. milk it. Several England players need to improve their performance in that regard. I think the partnership between Cook and Trott in the first game was a fine example. Cook was going at a run a ball, picking up 1s and 2s when boundaries weren't on offer. Trott played too many dot balls and it appeared that Cook started to feel the pressure of the rising run rate when he got out. Point 2 I don't necessarily agree with. Most of the shots England tried to hit over the top stayed hit. The glaring exception is Bairstow's wicket but he didn't get that ball off the middle and it was still nearly 6. Point 3 I definitely agree with, no doubt. Point 4 is, I think, more relevant to the bowling as all the batsmen other than Kieswetter have made some case for at least one more game. I would have liked Woakes in for Dernbach but I'll settle for Meaker or Borthwick, depending on conditions. Dernbach's a youngster himself though.

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