India v England, 5th ODI, Dharamsala January 26, 2013

Dharamsala set for international debut

Match facts

January 27, 2013
Start time 0930 (0400 GMT)

Big Picture

The cold and tranquil surroundings of the hill resort of Dharamsala are set to be abuzz with the clamour of international cricket. The curious choice of the newest entrant on the international cricketing map in peak winter has generated considerable interest, but snow is unlikely to make an appearance. The series having been decided in Mohali, it's not surprising that cricket talk has taken a backseat with players taking time out for sightseeing. However, the peaks around the picturesque valley stand tall as a constant reminder of heights the two teams haven't been able to scale with their cricket.

India have had a topsy-turvy time in the last three months, but the win has come as respite from the losses they endured in the Test series and the ODIs against Pakistan. While they have at least a semblance of answers to questions pertaining to the middle order, bowling, fielding and, to some extent, Rohit Sharma's role, others - Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir, for example - remain unanswered. A win here at least would keep the detractors relatively quiet for now.

England, who played so well in the Tests, are a shadow of themselves. They have a young side, but it is the experienced among them who have failed to inspire. Players like Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan haven't done much of note. But they have had positives too - Steven Finn has enhanced his reputation while Joe Root has impressed with his composure. The team is headed to New Zealand from here and as they play the T20s and ODIs first up, they need more positives from this tour.

Form guide

India WWWLW (Most recent first)
England LLLWL

In the spotlight

He waited and waited for his chance in Tests, but when he got one, he made it count. An agonising wait for an ODI debut has continued though for Cheteshwar Pujara. Speculations that he would walk into the XI once he became part of the squad were quashed immediately by the India captain. With the series in the bag, will India give him a chance?

Alastair Cook has been as efficient as ever and has two half-centuries in the series. But three times he has been out lbw, two times to deliveries pitching outside leg. While he will continue to be the main man behind England laying the foundation for a big total, he will hope the umpires allow him a full run.

Team news

Chris Woakes, who has replaced Tim Bresnan in England's squad to New Zealand, is likely to find a place in the XI, while Stuart Meaker could replace Jade Dernbach.

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 Chris Woakes, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Stuart Meaker

India could bring in Cheteshwar Pujara in place of Gautam Gambhir, but he might not open. "You will see a new batting attack tomorrow," Suresh Raina suggested in the pre-match press conference.

India (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir/Cheteshwar Pujara, 2 Rohit Sharma, 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

It is a 9.30am start in Dharamsala and the ball is expected to nip around in the cool conditions.

Stats and trivia

  • The HPCA stadium is the 43rd ODI venue in India. It's the second northern-most venue after Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir stadium, which hosted two ODIs between 1983 and 1986. It is also the fourth highest ground in the world behind, the stadiums in Johannesburg, Nairobi and Harare
  • Ian Bell is 96 short of 4000 ODI runs. He will be the eighth English player to get to the landmark if he gets there. Suresh Raina 15 away from 4000


"Definitely, I would like to bat higher up the order If I am given a chance. I would like to give my 100% as it will also give me an opportunity to play more overs."
Suresh Raina possibly throws his hat in the ring for the opening slot

"While seeing snow on the surrounding mountains gives an impression that it is chilly, the weather is quite tolerable and fit for the game."
An English fan in Dharamsala

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo