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

India aiming to avert slide


Match facts

January 11, 2013
Start time 1200 (0630 GMT)

Big Picture

There seems to be no bottom to the abyss India are hurtling into. It seems like only yesterday when they had to just turn up, and a home series, Test or ODI, was theirs. Now they have lost a series in each format in succession, to England and Pakistan. It also seems like only yesterday when India whitewashed England 5-0 in successive home bilateral ODI series. If you are gullible enough to bet on a similar result in this five-match ODI series, you might as well wager on a flood in water-scarce Saurashtra in January.

It is supposedly a side in transition but, apart from Ajinkya Rahane, all the batsmen in India's ODI squad have been around for years now. The same cannot be said of their bowling attack, but that has more to do with the continuing injury sagas of their fast bowlers than anything else. And it was the batting that let India down in all three ODIs against Pakistan.

By no means can you call England's pace attack for this series experienced, but they don't lack in either skill or speed. For an India line-up that was exposed by Mohammad Irfan and Junaid Khan, with a collective 15 ODIs between them going into the series last month, England's pace battery led by the impressive Steven Finn will pose an equal, if not a bigger, challenge.

The visitors are looking forward to building towards the Champions Trophy at home later this year and ultimately the World Cup in 2015 but, before that, they have their woeful record in their previous three ODI series in India to correct. One win in 16 games does no self-respecting modern side justice, especially one of England's calibre and meticulous planning. Their new limited-overs coach Ashley Giles had no insignificant role to play when England drew an ODI series here in 2002 and, despite defeats in their two warm-up games this time, he'll sorely want to improve on that finish from a decade ago.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
England LWWLW

In the spotlight

With Virender Sehwag dropped, Ajinkya Rahane should get to open the India innings along with Gautam Gambhir. The amount of time Rahane's spent on the bench can be gauged from his solitary ODI appearance in all of 2012. Even that came as an afterthought in Sri Lanka after the series had been won. Still, England are a side Rahane must be pretty familiar with. They were the opposition in the first 10 of his 13 ODIs and he's already played a few eye-catching knocks against them, including a 91 in late 2011 in Mohali.

Steven Finn began and ended the Test leg of the ongoing tour with injuries but his lone outing in Kolkata was enough to serve another reminder of his talent, and the unique combination of pace and bounce his gangling frame brings. India have long suffered at the hands of those attributes and, if Finn manages to stay clear of another breakdown, will be put to the test again.

Team news

He may have made a double- and a triple-century in his previous two Ranji Trophy games, but it is unlikely that Cheteshwar Pujara will make his ODI debut in front of his hometown fans in Rajkot. Transition or not, the batting line-up looks far too settled at the moment. With the new ODI rules making it tough to manage with just four frontline bowlers, India could stick to the side that won the final one-dayer against Pakistan.

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 Shami Ahmed.

With James Tredwell and Finn likely to be the frontline spin and pace choices, England have a couple of fast-bowling places to fill. Jade Dernbach, with his variations, is an important option in India, while Stuart Meaker's extra speed could push him in front of Chris Woakes.

England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Samit Patel, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 James Tredwell, 9 Stuart Meaker, 10 Jade Dernbach, 11 Steven Finn.

Pitch and conditions

The Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Khandheri, outside Rajkot, is making its international debut. The city has hosted 11 ODIs at the Madhavrao Scindia ground owned by the municipal corporation. The grounds may be different but if it is Rajkot, indications point to bucket-loads of runs. The Challenger Trophy, India's premier domestic one-day competition, produced five totals of 300-plus in four games at the SCA stadium in late 2012. The most recent fixture here was the Ranji Trophy match between Saurashtra and Madhya Pradesh, a match the hosts needed to win to make the knockouts. Accordingly, a dry, slow, and low pitch was prepared, but don't expect anything of the sort for an ODI.

Winter in Rajkot isn't as unforgiving as it is in north India. Evenings are cool and pleasant, while it gets warm during the day. Nights can turn slightly chilly, but with a noon start, we won't get that far.

Stats and trivia

  • The only time England have beaten India in an ODI series in India was back in 1984-85.

  • The Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on the outskirts of Rajkot will become India's 41st ODI venue.


"We'll have to wait and watch. It's not something that's on my mind right now, before the start of an important series. We can't be thinking about that now."
MS Dhoni on giving up the limited-overs captaincy

"Clearly we are the underdogs in this series but, if you look through our side, we have a lot of firepower and world-class players."
Alastair Cook believes his inexperienced side could cause a surprise

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharon on January 11, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (January 11 2013, 00:55 AM GMT) "India IS the supreme power in world cricket". Man you sound like a Darlek from Doctor Who "we are the supreme beings..." Give it a rest. India is just another country where cricket is played. It is no more or less important than New Zealand, Bangladesh or Australia. The self-importance conceit and hubris of some Indian continue to astonish me. BTW I have UNITED KINGDOM passport....

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    India needs batting allrounder who can bowl fast or medium pace...india have irfan pathan,praveen kumar, b.kumar...{medium pacer} ....jadeja,yusuf,ashwin,harbajhan,chawla,yuvraj.......{spinner} from the above names see who has performed in international cricket. Only irfan and yuvraj has performed consistent. praveen,jadeja,chawla has been flopped.jadeja is not performing in many matches but when his time comes of dropping him in the last match of the series he performs and he is retain in the team.......check his records.........{b.kumar will be future p.kumar in the batting department and like irfan in the bowling department}

    world cup is coming closer in australia we need many allrounders....many teams will go with 5-6 allrounders.batting is a worry for any team except aus and sa .....where batsman should be agressive..if u go to defend, the bowlers will trouble you and get you out.............

    beaware india.........

  • dakshina on January 11, 2013, 6:13 GMT

    Again Gambir & Dinda! Today also India going loose.

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    last chance for Gambhir or youvraj to perform otherwise make chance to youngster, nohit sharma what is he doing in team.... nohit waste of talent

  • Steve on January 11, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    Another one day series?? India could well win the series, but what is the point? Its just like painkillers after an amputation(having lost the test series).

    India should follow England's lead and field the bench for the series. Kohli, Gambhir and MSD should take a break and come back with full focus for the Aussies.


  • Kiran on January 11, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Frnds one doubt,,,is suresh raina given a contract by the board that he will always be a part of the team however bad he plays or even if he is out of form....Even Sehwag gets dropped now a days ,,but raina gng from worse to worse is still in team and also in starting line up.He nly plays well in IPLS,,,same as Rohit Sharma....

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    If you have selected Pujara, he should be in playing XI. I am sure Dhoni can drop Raina or Jadeja...(Drop Jadeja)If you want to have 5th blower option...i am sure Raina, Youvi and others can do the job... or just drop Ashwin we do not need 8th down to win match with the bat!

  • Sherjil on January 11, 2013, 5:11 GMT

    @Albert_cambell: I am sure you have to eat your words after the fifth ODI.I will eagerly looking for your comments here after the last match of the series.

  • James on January 11, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    I am a bit curious to understand the taken-for-granted place for Shami Ahmed. What are his credentials? Has he performed exceptionally well in Ranji- as compared to others like Sandeep Sharma or Ishwar Pandey or Rishi Dhawan or Pankaj Singh? Has he performed exceptionally better than others in the chances that he got in India A? Or is there something about him that the 'experts' like?

    And why are Gambhir or Kohli or Raina undroppable? It makes a lot of sense to drop an out of form Kohli and bring in an in form Pujara.

  • Fakhar on January 11, 2013, 5:04 GMT

    for indian fans hahah... india will lose this series... don't be too exited.. Fakhar Imam Bazmi