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England's rotation policy has left them short of experience in the bowling ranks in India but in Steven Finn they have a quick bowler who can cause damage - so long as he stays fit
January 7, 2013
England will find out plenty more about their much-vaunted bowling depth over the next few weeks. Their options for the one-day series against India are inexperienced, verging on callow, in the absence of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
The experience of Bresnan and strike-power of Finn will both be vital if England are to end their horror run of one-day results in the India. Not since the 3-3 draw in 2001-02, inspired by Andrew Flintoff with a significant role played by the now coach Ashley Giles, have England competed in coloured clothes on Indian soil.
The previous two series, in 2008 and 2011, were 5-0 whitewashes but in the second of those contests Finn emerged as a one-day bowler of considerable skill, extracting life from surfaces where others struggled and troubled India's top order with his pace and bounce. Finn's one-day numbers are impressive - 40 wickets at 25.90 - but there is a nagging concern about the amount of time he is spending sidelined by injury. It is not only Australia's young quicks who are limping off.
His Test series in India before was restricted to one appearance, albeit a decisive one in Kolkata where he claimed four wickets, with his tour top and tailed by thigh and back injuries. He returned to action in the opening warm-up match, against India A, sending down seven wicketless overs for 42 on a bitterly cold day in Delhi.
Finn will be essential in helping England claim early breakthroughs, which will take on added importance given the recent amendment to ODI playing conditions, allowing one fewer fielder outside the circle in non-Powerplay overs. England could not make early inroads against India A as the openers added 118 to lay the base for a matchwinning total.
But David Saker, the England bowling coach, believes another tweak to ODI playing conditions, to allow two bouncers per over, will favour England despite a feeling the bowlers overdid the short bowling against India A.
"We've talked about the regulations quite a lot and come up with our plans but until we get out there and see how those plans work we won't really be sure,'' Saker said. "I think they'll be in favour of us with the fast bowling attack we have, definitely in English conditions although India may be a little different.
"My philosophy is to do the basics right and our normal plans should still work well, but the big thing is the extra bouncers that will be bowled. If the wicket is conducive then it is going to play into our hands.''
With Finn and Bresnan almost certain starters, and James Tredwell likely to be the one frontline spinner, the final two pace-bowling slots will come from Jade Dernbach, Stuart Meaker and Chris Woakes. Dernbach was the pick of the attack against India A with 2 for 23 from seven overs while Woakes would add depth to the batting, the facet of his game that is developing more swiftly.
However, Meaker, who made his ODI debut on the previous India one-day tour, is an exciting prospect capable of reaching 90mph even on sluggish surfaces. It will be an interesting contest between the trio because there may be room for only one of them in a full-strength one-day squad when Anderson and Broad return.
England's opposition on Tuesday will include Ashish Nehra, the injury-plagued left-arm quick who last played for India during the 2011 World Cup, and Parvinder Awana who made his international debut in the Twenty20 series against England before Christmas but went wicketless in the two matches.
With an eye on India's future, though, there is an even more interesting name to follow. Unmukt Chand, the 19-year-old batsman who scored a hundred in the Under-19 World Cup final, will be at the top of the order. It will be a chance to for Chand to go head-to-head with Kevin Pietersen, his Delhi Daredevils team-mate, who he has credited with helping his game.
"You really feel confident when you have a session with someone like Kevin Pietersen," Chand said during the Champions League T20 last year. "I had an elaborate session in Pretoria where he gave me some valuable tips on technique."
Virender Sehwag has just been dropped by India and there could still be more changes to come if the series against England does not go well. Chand may not have to wait too long for his elevation.
21.00GMT, January 7: This article was correct to amend reference to Chand being the player of the U-19 World Cup
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough