India search for series win to celebrate No. 1 spot
January 23, 2013
Start time 1200 (0630 GMT)
How quickly this series has turned. In the first ODI in Rajkot, India were beaten in conditions that they usually prosper in, and coming on the heels of the series defeat to Pakistan, India's home one-day prowess was under the scanner. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell had looked masterful as they put on 158, England's highest opening partnership against India. In the next match, 158 was all what the entire England team managed. In the third ODI, England couldn't even muster that, keeling over for 155 and were looking more and more like the hapless outfits that suffered 5-0 reverses in their previous two visits.
There is talk of this being an inexperienced England side, though their biggest concern this series is the faltering top order which is packed with players who have been around for years. The only significant batting absentee is Jonathan Trott, whose un-flamboyant batting has typically split opinion over his place in the one-day side despite an unimpeachable average nearing 50. In his absence, his value is continuing to grow.
India, on the other hand, are now atop the world rankings, and what is traditionally their weaker department - the bowling - has flourished in the previous two matches. The much-derided Ravindra Jadeja has turned in influential performances in both victories, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar has compensated for his lack of pace with movement to trouble the top order. Virat Kohli, the ICC's ODI Player of the Year, also shrugged aside his indifferent recent form to pocket his first Man-of-the-Match award of 2013 in the last match. One more win will wrap up the series and give some relief to a side that has weathered plenty of criticism in recent times.
Form guide(Most recent first)
In the spotlight
Ajinkya Rahane spent much of the past year carrying drinks, having been part of the Indian squad in all three formats without getting too many matches. Finally, in this series, he has got chances, but has been bowled through the gate early by Steven Finn in the last two ODIs. He will have fond memories of Mohali, though, winning his only ODI Man-of-the-Match award the last time these two sides played here.
While not the flashiest of batsman, Joe Root has shown his ability to stabilise the innings when his more experienced colleagues have come up short. On the flat track in Rajkot, he was shunted down the order to allow more expansive batsmen time in the middle, but with the team struggling in the next two games, he took over the steadying role that Trott has perfected.
England are considering a couple of changes to their XI. They are toying with the idea of bringing in Jos Buttler as wicketkeeper-batsman for Craig Kieswetter, and Jade Dernbach, who now has the unwanted record of being the most expensive among ODI bowlers who have sent down 1000 deliveries, could make way for Stuart Meaker. Steven Finn injured his finger during a fielding drill but is expected to be fit in time for the match.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell,3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Samit Patel, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Stuart Meaker
India are likely to go in with the same XI that served them so well in the previous two victories.
India (probable) 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 Shami Ahmed, 11 Ishant Sharma
Pitch and conditions
England are now left needing to win both the remaining matches in the series, but one consolation is that the next match will be in Mohali, where the track traditionally favours the quick bowlers and the temperatures will be in the mid-teens - conditions which Ian Bell termed as 'English'.
- In 96 ODIs, Virat Kohli already has 13 Man-of-the-Match awards, which is more than Michael Bevan (232 matches) and Michael Clarke (223 games)
- There have been six ODI hundreds scored in Mohali, but none of them have been made by an Indian
Quotes"It was a bit annoying for me as I was not getting out making too many mistakes. I got a few good balls in the last series and made a few mistakes in this series. But, I was pretty calm at that point of time. You just got to be composed. "
Virat Kohli, on his lean returns before the previous match.
"We have a point to prove, absolutely. We spoke about it. It can be quite easy in this part of the world that if you get on a bad trot, you can let your heads drop and we can't allow that to creep in."
England spinner James Tredwell hopes the team can stage a turnaround.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo