India v England, 1st ODI, Rajkot January 10, 2013

Plenty of Indian problems to resolve

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One of India's major problems in the just-concluded ODI series against Pakistan was the repeated top-order collapses against some high-quality bowling from Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan. Even Virat Kohli, who has had as purple a patch in ODIs as anyone has ever had, faltered. Virender Sehwag is already a casualty, and his limited-overs career is at a crossroads, if not an end. Gautam Gambhir's weakness against the moving ball was in the limelight once again, prompting murmurs over his place in the side as well.

India have also only had two 50-run opening stands in 19 ODIs over the past 12 months, something they are trying to fix by bringing in Ajinkya Rahane, who is set for an extended run after an eternity carrying drinks.

"The stats suggest that for quite some time we have not got off to a very good," MS Dhoni said ahead of the first ODI against England in Rajkot. "Yes, the openers have been scoring runs on and off, but we have not been able to get a good partnership between them. One of them has been getting out. We are hoping to get good starts in this series. Jinx [Rahane] is the new opener. He has played on and off and done decently well."

Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh were two others who had series to forget against Pakistan but one thing in favour of some of the struggling batsmen is that Rajkot is synonymous with big runs, regularly in the news for the latest colossal score from Ravindra Jadeja or Cheteshwar Pujara.

India's totals in the previous two ODIs in the city, though at the old Madhavrao Scindia Stadium, are 414 for 7 and 387 for 5. Though Friday's match will be played at the swank new ground in the city's outskirts, that too promises to be full of runs. The last limited-overs tournament played here was the Challenger Trophy, where not only were 300-plus scores the norm, those totals were almost chased down on occasions as well.

The flip side of a flat track is the magnifying lens it puts on bowlers. While the batting is brimful of experience, several of the quick bowlers are in the infancy of their international careers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was outstanding in his debut Twenty20 in Bangalore last month and sparked plenty of excitement, but at his military-medium pace, on tracks with little movement, he could be in for a difficult time. Shami Ahmed has had only one game so far and Ishant Sharma's propensity to leak runs has meant he hasn't been a regular in the ODI side for nearly three years.

One other plus for India is that Dhoni's personal form was exceptional in the Pakistan series, as it has been for much of his ODI career, providing some welcome respite for the under-fire captain. "I never question my ability… Self-belief is something that's very important. Especially in a team sport, it's important that everybody keeps believing in themselves and understands the roles and responsibilities they've got."

It has been a difficult month for Dhoni, with only two days to digest the morale-sapping Test series defeat to England before shifting his focus to the Twenty20s, two days after which cricketing ties with India's bitterest rivals resumed. Now, just three days after Pakistan left as victors, he's back at the start of a new series. And if he thought the England ODIs would be somewhat low-profile, he would have changed his mind after seeing the thousands who turned up outside the team hotel to catch a glimpse of their stars.

There have been suggestions, including from Rahul Dravid, that perhaps the time has come for Dhoni, who has long performed the triple-role of leader, batsman and wicketkeeper, to give up captaincy in at least one of the formats. It's not an idea Dhoni agrees with though, as of now. "We'll have to wait and watch. It's not something that's on my mind before the start of an important series. We can't be thinking about that now."

The last time India lost a live home ODI against England was way back in 2002, when Andrew Flintoff waved his shirt in celebration at the Wankhede Stadium, an act that was famously echoed by Sourav Ganguly at Lord's the next year. The previous two ODI series in India between the two sides have ended in 5-0 drubbings for England. Alastair Cook has rightly termed his team as underdogs going into the series but India have already seen one proud 28-year-old record fall this season, and have plenty to sort if they aren't to lose another.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gnat9 on January 10, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    Leaving out Sehwag is a bad idea. Although he hasn't been playing well of late, a batsman like him needs only one good knock to restore his form. Having Sehwag at the crease will make the England bowlers a bit more circumspect, and they won't take things for granted. Batting along with a barsman like Sehwag would have also helped a beginner like Rahane get some experience. Gambhir should have been the one sitting out. I guess it is the politics between Dhoni and Sehwag rearing its ugly head again.

  • kirangupta on January 10, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    No Pujara!!!

    My Indian Team:

    Pujara - Scored runs at Test level and mountains of runs at amazing strike rates in the Ranji Trophy. In the form of his life. Opener

    Rahane - Beats out Gambhir because of the latter's huge form slump. Rahane - despite not getting a lot of match practice - is a huge talent (remember the IPL) Opener

    Kohli - despite a form slump remains the best player in the country.

    Rohit - A good player and the right man for number 4 - can play aggressive or defensive.

    Dhoni (c) (wk) - best man for the captaincy and good aggressive batsman.

    Raina - Beats out Yuvi - just - pinch hitter - can bowl dibbly dobbly off-spin if required.

    Jadeja - quality batsman average bowler. Can call on Raina or Rohit if not bowling well.

    Ashwin - Good batsman excellent bowler.

    B Kumar- Promising start to his career.

    Ishant - Spearhead of the attack - needs to perform.

    Dinda - Gavaskar full of praise for him. Promising Player.

    Let me know of your thoughts of this team. GO INDIA!!

  • love_cricket4ever on January 12, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Jadeja is not performing well or taking responsibility to win a match. He plays very well in the IPL, but never for the National team. Ashwin has been failing continously, he is neither taking wickets nor controlling the run rate. Ishant sharma had been given plenty of chances and he is still under performing. Sreeshanth should be given a chance. Sreeshanth had performed well in his comeback mathces.

  • ihaq1 on January 11, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    i agree more wirh sudhir than with kirangupta...i think u shud sent out an SOS to south africa for any spare fast bowlers...just like england and new zealand...on a flat batting track indian fast bowlers will find it difficult against a good batting side like england...india do need a smasher in teh top order and i wud think delhis shikar dhawan wud be ppreferable...he has hit four centuries in teh last few months and that should eb enough to include him...however pujara and rahane can bat on this pitch with kohli an dhoni backing up..jadeja shud be encouraged to bat and spin teh bowl...even the new fast bowler has a good batting average

  • t20-2007 on January 11, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I'm sure thr must be some plan in giving those jadeja's,R sharma's,Dinda chance aftr chance...it will make thm more experience guys in the team and aftr couple of years they ll be picked as experience players...leaving out more deserving once...its best now to over haul the whole team..aftr the 2011 world cup we need a new set of hungry players to win the cup for india

  • t20-2007 on January 11, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    @kc69..i fully agreed with u !!.......long with him Thr is no place for sir Ravindra jadeja ,Sir Rohit sharma and Danger Dinda in playing XI...but thats our misfortune to watch thr crap day aftr day!!

  • aryan-is-dravid-fan on January 11, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    @Nampally - Gambhir cannot keep his place in the team based on form and results over the past year, and you want him as part of the "selection panel" within the team!! Interesting, but then we would loose, whatever slim chance we have right now, of fielding our best XI.

  • on January 11, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    @ hfiery89 Finn who? Kohli spanked Finn last year even getting an ODI ton in England. Who told you that Finn did well against Kohli?

  • on January 11, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    Well England also must be discussing the same thing in the dressing room, this could be one rumor Dhoni is playing safely to make English Camp to confused.

  • on January 11, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    Well Sehwag should still be persisted. He is an enigma as he could burst into form from out of thin air .blip bloop that he is. Dhoni should be persisted with as captain . Please remember he also as a cricketer learns his lessons but this time rocky lessons have to be learnt. He knows that it is still his responsibility to rebuild the team and like the Phoenix. Rise from the ashes.

  • gnat9 on January 10, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    Leaving out Sehwag is a bad idea. Although he hasn't been playing well of late, a batsman like him needs only one good knock to restore his form. Having Sehwag at the crease will make the England bowlers a bit more circumspect, and they won't take things for granted. Batting along with a barsman like Sehwag would have also helped a beginner like Rahane get some experience. Gambhir should have been the one sitting out. I guess it is the politics between Dhoni and Sehwag rearing its ugly head again.

  • kirangupta on January 10, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    No Pujara!!!

    My Indian Team:

    Pujara - Scored runs at Test level and mountains of runs at amazing strike rates in the Ranji Trophy. In the form of his life. Opener

    Rahane - Beats out Gambhir because of the latter's huge form slump. Rahane - despite not getting a lot of match practice - is a huge talent (remember the IPL) Opener

    Kohli - despite a form slump remains the best player in the country.

    Rohit - A good player and the right man for number 4 - can play aggressive or defensive.

    Dhoni (c) (wk) - best man for the captaincy and good aggressive batsman.

    Raina - Beats out Yuvi - just - pinch hitter - can bowl dibbly dobbly off-spin if required.

    Jadeja - quality batsman average bowler. Can call on Raina or Rohit if not bowling well.

    Ashwin - Good batsman excellent bowler.

    B Kumar- Promising start to his career.

    Ishant - Spearhead of the attack - needs to perform.

    Dinda - Gavaskar full of praise for him. Promising Player.

    Let me know of your thoughts of this team. GO INDIA!!

  • love_cricket4ever on January 12, 2013, 4:21 GMT

    Jadeja is not performing well or taking responsibility to win a match. He plays very well in the IPL, but never for the National team. Ashwin has been failing continously, he is neither taking wickets nor controlling the run rate. Ishant sharma had been given plenty of chances and he is still under performing. Sreeshanth should be given a chance. Sreeshanth had performed well in his comeback mathces.

  • ihaq1 on January 11, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    i agree more wirh sudhir than with kirangupta...i think u shud sent out an SOS to south africa for any spare fast bowlers...just like england and new zealand...on a flat batting track indian fast bowlers will find it difficult against a good batting side like england...india do need a smasher in teh top order and i wud think delhis shikar dhawan wud be ppreferable...he has hit four centuries in teh last few months and that should eb enough to include him...however pujara and rahane can bat on this pitch with kohli an dhoni backing up..jadeja shud be encouraged to bat and spin teh bowl...even the new fast bowler has a good batting average

  • t20-2007 on January 11, 2013, 9:30 GMT

    I'm sure thr must be some plan in giving those jadeja's,R sharma's,Dinda chance aftr chance...it will make thm more experience guys in the team and aftr couple of years they ll be picked as experience players...leaving out more deserving once...its best now to over haul the whole team..aftr the 2011 world cup we need a new set of hungry players to win the cup for india

  • t20-2007 on January 11, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    @kc69..i fully agreed with u !!.......long with him Thr is no place for sir Ravindra jadeja ,Sir Rohit sharma and Danger Dinda in playing XI...but thats our misfortune to watch thr crap day aftr day!!

  • aryan-is-dravid-fan on January 11, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    @Nampally - Gambhir cannot keep his place in the team based on form and results over the past year, and you want him as part of the "selection panel" within the team!! Interesting, but then we would loose, whatever slim chance we have right now, of fielding our best XI.

  • on January 11, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    @ hfiery89 Finn who? Kohli spanked Finn last year even getting an ODI ton in England. Who told you that Finn did well against Kohli?

  • on January 11, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    Well England also must be discussing the same thing in the dressing room, this could be one rumor Dhoni is playing safely to make English Camp to confused.

  • on January 11, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    Well Sehwag should still be persisted. He is an enigma as he could burst into form from out of thin air .blip bloop that he is. Dhoni should be persisted with as captain . Please remember he also as a cricketer learns his lessons but this time rocky lessons have to be learnt. He knows that it is still his responsibility to rebuild the team and like the Phoenix. Rise from the ashes.

  • on January 11, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    My personal XI will be PUJARA opening & anchoring the innings ,with Rahane !Virat, Dhoni, Yuvi, Raina,Manoj Tiwari, Ahwin,Irfan Pathan,B.Kumar,Ishant/Sreeshanth...Dhoni shld definitely bat up the order whilst Irfan Pathan -d all rounder should be used more productively......Gambir can come into open if Puajra is unfit....

  • hfiery89 on January 11, 2013, 1:05 GMT

    @Nampally, so Kohli can smash the best all over the world, but can't play Finn.. pretty interesting...

  • on January 10, 2013, 22:15 GMT

    My team My eleven follows openers from.. Mukund/dhawan/parthiv,rahane/m.pandey/unmukht/,pujara at first down,gambhir/yuvraj/raina/k.jadhav/maeneria/ any of the best at second down ,kohli,dhoni,jadeja,spinners from j.saxena/rassol/ashwin/harbhajhan/ladda,bhuvaneshwar/praveen/sreeshanth,rpsingh/pathan,umesh yadav/shami/ishanth/i.pandey.

  • Nampally on January 10, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    Sid, The biggest single problem is Dhoni as a XI Selector. He has made India look bad in the past by dropping all telented youngsters from the XI.Now he is stating that there is no place for Pujara in the XI. Pujara in his terrific form will be #1 choice in any team including SA or Australia. Dhoni must have gone out of his mind to make such a crazy statement. Dhoni needs to be kept off the selection. Let there be a panel of 3 players with equal voices incl. Ashwin & Gambhir as the selectors. Kohli is out of form. So Pujara needs to bat #3 on his home ground where he scored a triple century yesterday. Let Kohli come in at #4, since he cannot play seamers like Finn. Hopefully Pujara can keep one end closed for the first 10 overs to protect Kohli. Most of the problems for India are self created. When India A & Delhi can beat England, it shows how much depth India has. By keeping Dhawan, Nadeem, Yadev, Aaron, etc. out of the squad, India look ordinary.Bring in guys in good form to WIN.

  • Reverse_Bat on January 10, 2013, 21:37 GMT

    As long as Dhoni stays in the team as Captain, problems will be plenty, BCCI and SELECTORS are taking Indian Cricket toa wrong direction. Srinivasan is a Culprit. He is protecting Dhoni bcoz of CSK leadership.If Dhoni steps down,CSK is history.Indian Cricket need new administartion, and some bold decision making selectors. Will this happen in Australia? I rread another article in Cricinfo, dhoni sayin Pujara is unlikely playing in the final XI. What a miserable captain he is. where is all the cricket pundits, are they still alive or hiding in the luxury of BCCI PENSION PACKAGE.Its time to roll some heads from BCCI. SORRY, I am so fustrated abt this whole stupid things happening in a democratic country like INDIA. SHAME!!!!

  • kc69 on January 10, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    I wish Gambhir is dropped or gets injured and Shikhar Dhawan gets a chance instead of him.

  • Devin48 on January 10, 2013, 20:13 GMT

    The omission of Sehwag is actually a good decision. He hasn't been scoring much recently and Ajinkya Rahane deserves a longer run in the ODI format. And how could Gambhir be getting so many chances? He is in poor form since a very long time....i hope all the youngsters perform well and try hard to cement their place in the side; rahane, bhuvneshwar kumar and shami ahmed. Good luck to India..all the way!! Hope to see 5-0 or 4-1 to India

  • philosophers on January 10, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    What really baffles me is how misinformed the average Indian fan is and how bullish he is about his lousy opinion. When India plays on flat tracks and the bowlers don't perform, they ask the whole bowling unit to be dismantled. When India plays on bowling friendly pitches and the batting doesn't click, suddenly all the batters should be dropped. Sehwag has rightly been dropped. Somebody commented Kohli should be dropped? Seriously? The dude has had just one bad series in the last two years. Yuvraj has just come back and India needs either him or somebody as explosive as him in the middle (which we don't have right now). Gambhir is the only contentious selection here and I believe his performance in this or maybe the next series will be crucial for his future. As far as I think this is the team that we are going to see in the 2015 world cup. Only probable changes could be Gambhir if he doesnt perform and Umesh Yadav coming in with Ishant and Bhunesh/Sreesanth (if he comes back well).

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on January 10, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    Looks like the match is going to be played on yet another flat pitch , its exactly these FLAT PITCHES that makes cricket so boring !! anyone who can hold a bat will come and score 50s and 100s and teams will be scoring and chasing over 300 runs.. BORING !! i will be praying for a bowler friendly pitch (green or dusty doesnt matter )

  • chandrathej on January 10, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    @ mukesh123 mishra, The article says live ODI which means the series is not yet decided.. Before the ODI you mentioned there played in 5 ODI's which India won and hence this once automatically became a dead one..

  • StarHawk on January 10, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    My XI: Gambhir, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Raina, Dhoni (c)(wk), Jadeja, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar, Shami Ahmed, Ishant.

    I left out Yuvraj Singh because he will struggle against quality fast bowlers. The likes of Meaker and Finn will get him with short balls. Also, Dhoni didn't even use him much in the ODI series against Pakistan. He only bowled 6 overs and did not pick any wickets. Jadeja can bowl 10 overs on his own and was the star bowler in the ODI series against England last year.

    Also, Kohli could bat at #4 because if you look at his averages, he averages well over 60 batting at #4. Out of his 13 ODI hundreds, 6 of them are scored at #4 position.

  • on January 10, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    @kirangupta - Man... i was laughin lukin at the team u have. Please... Know your cricket before u post something on a public portal :)

  • rosh280 on January 10, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    If india has to win all matches they should bring in form batsmen like murali vijay, cheteswar pujara at opening pair. if pujara is not opening dinesh karthik or abhinav mukund should open.india will get good opening start. my team would be Murali vijay, dinesh karthik/ a mukund, cheteswar pujara, rohit sharma, dhoni, suresh raina, jadeja, aswin,b kumar, shami/ pankaj singh/ ishwar pandey, ishant sharma. ishant sharma, b kumar, pankaj singh, shami, ishwar pandey all are wicket taking bowlers. we could also try jalaj saxena in the place of aswin and jadeja. amitoze singh, yogesh nagar, manish pandey, mayank agarwal are the other options.

  • Rahulbose on January 10, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    ODI rules have been changed. The two bouncers an over rule is hurting likes of Yuvraj and Raina. And the field limitation makes part time spinners ineffective. Both these are bad news for Indian ODI team. On the Rajkot pitch with new restrictions 400 might not be a safe score.

  • on January 10, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    Why Gambhir is getting these many chances?

  • NIKHILJOHRY on January 10, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    No doubt we have plenty of problems.Batting failures is the main problem and our bowling is not that strong that it will bail us out every time like it did against pakistan in Delhi.With sehwag dropped lrts hope the youngsters grab the opportunity with both hands and the other batsmen find form.check out my blog on issues facing indian cricket at http://nikhiljohry.blogspot.in/

  • mukesh132mishra on January 10, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    "The last time India lost a live home ODI against England was way back in 2002" is not true. They won a match against India in 2006 by 5 wickets in Jharkhand, under Strauss, when Dravid was at the helpm of team India. India won that series 6-1, if I remember it correctly. It was the match when Dhoni opened and scored 96. Ramesh Powar was the other half centurian from India.

    6th ODI: India v England at Jamshedpur - Apr 12, 2006 India 223 (48 ov); England 227/5 (42.4 ov) England won by 5 wickets (with 44 balls remaining)

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 10, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    Batting is still India's biggest problem with walking wickets like Gambhir, Rohit and out of form Kohli. India's bowling has improved a lot with the arrival of B Kumar and Shami Ahmed. Both of them should play in Rajkot.

  • StarHawk on January 10, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    @ Kirangupta, Rohit Sharma?? really? You are dropping Gauti because of his slump..what has Rohit Sharma done in the recent past to get into the 15-member squad, let alone the playing XI??? And, how can you say he is a good player? Do you have any stats to back it up..and please don't say he's talented. Just like most Indians, I'm also tired of hearing the word "talent" every time someone talks about Rohit Sharma.

  • dudex14 on January 10, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    kiran gupta...that team is perfect, though u can leave out rohit n put yuvi..also jaddu is a better bowler than rohit n raina.. however this side will thrash the poms..mark my words

  • Pavan_2020 on January 10, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    no Rohit - enough chances already, has talent but too much attitude. needs to respect the game first. cant leave Yuvi out of an ODI/T20 - period. not sure if pujara will be a good opener - if we drop gambhir, we dont have another opening option. so ateast for the first match - we need to go witht he same combo - gambir and Yuvi.

  • Raj12345 on January 10, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    kirangupta - Remove RG rest looks good. Bring new player from crowd from ground instead of RG, definitely someone going to make more than 0 runs.

  • Raj12345 on January 10, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    kirangupta - Remove RG rest looks good. Bring new player from crowd from ground instead of RG, definitely someone going to make more than 0 runs.

  • Pavan_2020 on January 10, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    no Rohit - enough chances already, has talent but too much attitude. needs to respect the game first. cant leave Yuvi out of an ODI/T20 - period. not sure if pujara will be a good opener - if we drop gambhir, we dont have another opening option. so ateast for the first match - we need to go witht he same combo - gambir and Yuvi.

  • dudex14 on January 10, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    kiran gupta...that team is perfect, though u can leave out rohit n put yuvi..also jaddu is a better bowler than rohit n raina.. however this side will thrash the poms..mark my words

  • StarHawk on January 10, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    @ Kirangupta, Rohit Sharma?? really? You are dropping Gauti because of his slump..what has Rohit Sharma done in the recent past to get into the 15-member squad, let alone the playing XI??? And, how can you say he is a good player? Do you have any stats to back it up..and please don't say he's talented. Just like most Indians, I'm also tired of hearing the word "talent" every time someone talks about Rohit Sharma.

  • Al_Bundy1 on January 10, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    Batting is still India's biggest problem with walking wickets like Gambhir, Rohit and out of form Kohli. India's bowling has improved a lot with the arrival of B Kumar and Shami Ahmed. Both of them should play in Rajkot.

  • mukesh132mishra on January 10, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    "The last time India lost a live home ODI against England was way back in 2002" is not true. They won a match against India in 2006 by 5 wickets in Jharkhand, under Strauss, when Dravid was at the helpm of team India. India won that series 6-1, if I remember it correctly. It was the match when Dhoni opened and scored 96. Ramesh Powar was the other half centurian from India.

    6th ODI: India v England at Jamshedpur - Apr 12, 2006 India 223 (48 ov); England 227/5 (42.4 ov) England won by 5 wickets (with 44 balls remaining)

  • NIKHILJOHRY on January 10, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    No doubt we have plenty of problems.Batting failures is the main problem and our bowling is not that strong that it will bail us out every time like it did against pakistan in Delhi.With sehwag dropped lrts hope the youngsters grab the opportunity with both hands and the other batsmen find form.check out my blog on issues facing indian cricket at http://nikhiljohry.blogspot.in/

  • on January 10, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    Why Gambhir is getting these many chances?

  • Rahulbose on January 10, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    ODI rules have been changed. The two bouncers an over rule is hurting likes of Yuvraj and Raina. And the field limitation makes part time spinners ineffective. Both these are bad news for Indian ODI team. On the Rajkot pitch with new restrictions 400 might not be a safe score.

  • rosh280 on January 10, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    If india has to win all matches they should bring in form batsmen like murali vijay, cheteswar pujara at opening pair. if pujara is not opening dinesh karthik or abhinav mukund should open.india will get good opening start. my team would be Murali vijay, dinesh karthik/ a mukund, cheteswar pujara, rohit sharma, dhoni, suresh raina, jadeja, aswin,b kumar, shami/ pankaj singh/ ishwar pandey, ishant sharma. ishant sharma, b kumar, pankaj singh, shami, ishwar pandey all are wicket taking bowlers. we could also try jalaj saxena in the place of aswin and jadeja. amitoze singh, yogesh nagar, manish pandey, mayank agarwal are the other options.