Death bowling a worry for India
Match factsJanuary 15, 2013
Start time 1200 local (0630 GMT)
If the pitches and outfields for the rest of the series are going to be like what was served in Rajkot then the bowlers, especially India's, better take cover. In 12 balls, England leapfrogged from 287 to 325, and as a result of those two overs at the death, they had made just enough to secure a match-winning total. Though India did well to run them close, falling short by nine runs, the positives were overshadowed by overs 49 and 50 in England's innings, that hemorrhaged 38 runs.
That India's most experienced bowler, Ishant Sharma, was partly responsible for those runs says a lot. Ironically, his death bowling had been effective in the previous ODI, when India snatched a low-scoring game against Pakistan in Delhi. Take a look at his figures in Rajkot, and it's easy to miss his two maidens among the ten overs that leaked 86. Ishant wasn't solely at fault, for all of India's bowlers haven't been as consistent as they should be.
Death bowling has been a problem for India since Zaheer Khan's slump in form. In good batting conditions, yorkers are the bowler's best weapon but India's attack hasn't been able to deliver them consistently. Not that England set the best example either. Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach went in excess of six an over in their ten overs, while Tim Bresnan leaked 8.37 in his eight overs, though he picked up two wickets. The captain Alastair Cook defended the trio, saying the conditions left little margin for error. Spin came to England's rescue in the form of James Tredwell, who not only took four wickets but went for less than five an over. India's relatively more experienced spin attack wasn't as effective, picking up just one wicket. Not the first time, after the Tests, an England spinner upstaged India's spinners.
The Rajkot ODI was a change from the trend of low scores in the Pakistan ODIs. While it benefited the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, who got some runs and confidence, the fast bowlers were battered. More sporting conditions would allow for a better assessment of the side as a whole.
Form guide(Most recent first)
In the spotlight
Twenty-one, 38, 9, 27, 0, 6, 7, 15 - a breakup of Virat Kohli's scores across T20s and ODIs since his century in the Nagpur Test against England. Apart from the first four scores, made in the T20s, the remaining four are worrying, considering that he bats in the top order and has more time to build an innings. Kohli was found out by the moving ball against Pakistan and in Rajkot he edged a straight one to the keeper. His place in the lineup may not be in doubt, but India are missing a big contribution from him.
Ian Bell has been shifted around the batting order in his one-day career but of late he has found a second wind as an opener. Bell filled in at the top after Kevin Pietersen was dropped last year and in 12 innings he averages 57.63 with a century and five fifties. If there was one positive to emerge from the Pietersen drama, this is it. Bell has given the Indian bowlers a few headaches, with scores of 91 and 108 in the warm-up games and 85 in Rajkot.
Cook confirmed that England will keep with their top seven, giving Joe Root another chance. Root didn't get to bat in Rajkot, but bowled nine overs of spin for 51. The only change could be in the pace attack.
England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 6 Joe Root, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Jade Dernbach, 11 Steven Finn
India could also make a change to their seam line-up. MS Dhoni said after the first ODI that they would like to test Shami Ahmed's death bowling skills at some stage. India opted for Ashok Dinda in Rajkot as he was more experienced.
India (possible) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashok Dinda/Shami Ahmed.
Stats and trivia
- England have played only one ODI in Kochi, losing by four wickets to India in 2006. Pietersen is the only survivor from that game.
- India have won four of their six matches in Kochi.
- Virat Kohli is 86 shy of 4000 ODI runs.
"The way we have learned to tackle the spinners is incredible. It's a big credit for us."
England allrounder Samit Patel
"Whenever the batsmen don't do well, bowlers cover up for them and vice-versa. I don't believe in blaming one area of the game. I think the bowlers are putting in all the hard work, and the way they won the match for us against Pakistan (in Delhi) was commendable."
Gautam Gambhir defends India's bowlers
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo