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January 5, 2013
As England continue preparations for the one-day series against India, with their opening warm-up fixture against the A side in Delhi on Sunday, in a nearby part of the city the chastened national side will be attempting to regain some pride in the final one-day international against Pakistan.
Rather than the series against Pakistan, crammed between England's two visits, being an opportunity to rebuild confidence after the Test series loss before Christmas, it has laid bare the major issues within the India team. This time, returning to coloured clothes has not given them anywhere to hide.
England, though, at least publicly, are not about to start any gloating at their opponent's expense. Despite an impressive 2012 in one-day cricket, where they rose to No. 1 in the world, their recent record in India does not give them any grounds for presumption ahead of this series. In 2005-06 they lost 6-1, and in both 2008 and 2011 it was 5-0. India may look ripe for the taking this time, but England are playing up the home team's strength.
"I don't think it is a good time to play India. I don't think it is ever a good time to play India," Eoin Morgan said. "We know how successful they have been in the past and they are the World Cup champions at the moment.
"They might be going through a bad patch but they are very, very dangerous cricketers and they have guys who can turn the game on its head in a matter of minutes."
Morgan knows all about turning a game around in an instant. It was his straight six off Ashok Dinda which gave England a last-ball victory in the second Twenty20 in Mumbai that earned them a share of the series.
It was yet another example of Morgan's coolness in the heat of battle and he will have a vital role to play in the upcoming series. After a difficult time at the start of 2012, on a forgettable tour of the UAE facing Pakistan, the home summer reaffirmed his status as a premier middle-order batsman for England in the limited-overs game with 298 runs at 74.50 in 11 matches against West Indies, Australia and South Africa.
The one-day batting line-up he will be part of looks very different to the Twenty20 unit on display a couple of weeks ago. Kevin Pietersen is back after reversing his one-day retirement of last June and is likely to bat at No. 3 behind the opening pair of captain Alastair Cook and Ian Bell who forged a successful combination during the English season. Joe Root and Jos Buttler could be competing for one middle-order spot.
England only arrived back in India two days ago and there are just a couple of warm-up matches for them to prepare, but Morgan is confident that the players will be ready with all the squad, except for Chris Woakes, having spent time in India late last year.
"The majority of our preparation has already been done pre-Christmas," he said. "Many of us have been here since the October 24 or 25 and some of the guys who weren't spent three weeks here before Christmas too. Over the next few days we'll just be doing top-ups in different areas of our games. We are prepared."
The match against India A will also be the first chance for Ashley Giles, England's new one-day coach, to assess the bowling options at his disposal in the absence of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann. Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan are the most experienced figures, supported by Woakes, Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker with James Tredwell and Danny Briggs as the frontline spinners.
It remains uncertain, though, how much play they will be able to get in. The cold mornings have left Delhi shrouded in fog while the light fades early and there are no floodlights at the Palam Cricket Ground.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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