Weather holds key in India-Pakistan series opener
Match factsDecember 30, 2012
Start time 0900 (0330 GMT)
Big PictureIndia's win in the second T20 in Ahmedabad is good for the context of the tour; the 1-1 scoreline sets up the three-match one-day series nicely. The T20 was closely fought, but some improved death bowling helped India save face after two consecutive T20 losses. The two teams haven't seen much of each other in the last two years, with India winning all three one-dayers in that period - their most recent meeting was in Mirpur this March for the Asia Cup.
This short one-day series promises to be just as competitive, provided the weather doesn't stand in the way. It has been raining in Chennai since Friday and more rain is forecast for Sunday. A 9am start means there's less time for the outfield to dry up. Bizarrely, this is the first time India will be playing a one-dayer at home in 2012, having played games in Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. If the wet weather persists, there's a chance this series may only properly start in 2013, which is just a few days away.
Pakistan have fond memories of Chepauk, where Saeed Anwar scored his iconic 194 in a one-dayer in 1997 and where they staged one of Test cricket's most remarkable comebacks. Pakistan can do with the happy vibes, because despite the Asia Cup win they haven't had the happiest year in one-day internationals, winning six and losing ten. The series defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia, following the Asia Cup, would have hurt.
Form guide (Completed games, most recent first)India WWWLW
Players to watchMohammad Hafeez's demotion from the opening position seemed to work for him in the T20s. In both games, he compiled half-centuries, playing a crucial role in Pakistan's successful chase in the first T20 and nearly repeating it in the second. It was the quality of his shots that stood out. In Ahmedabad, his first scoring shot was an audacious scoop that nearly carried over the fine-leg rope. His knock featured late cuts, the drive over extra cover, consecutive slogged sixes over deep midwicket and a booming straight drive to bring up his fifty. In his last three ODIs, Hafeez has scores of 78, 23 and 4 - all as an opener - and with Ahmed Shehzad not in the one-day squad it remains to be seen if he will open with Nasir Jamshed.
Ashok Dinda shrugged off a horror final over in the T20 against England in Mumbai with 3 for 36 in Ahmedabad against Pakistan. Death bowling has been an issue for India of late, and Dinda's late spell set a good example. A slower ball, bowled from the back of the hand, knocked down Umar Akmal's middle stump, and his final two overs went for just six runs each. His wickets of Hafeez and Kamran Akmal, both caught in the deep, ensured the game was India's.
Team newsPakistan have retained the allrounder Shoaib Malik and left-arm seamer Mohammad Irfan for the one-dayers, in recognition of their good performances in the T20s. There was talk of retaining Shahid Afridi as well, but he hadn't done enough to merit selection, thereby putting his one-day future in doubt. Younis Khan and Umar Gul return to the squad after the axe for the series against Australia in August.
Pakistan (likely) 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt.), 5 Younis Khan, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shoaib Malik, 8 Kamran Akmal (wk), 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan/Mohammad Irfan
Virender Sehwag returns to the ODI squad after being dropped for the T20s. Yuvraj Singh will play his first one-dayer since returning from illness while Bhuvneshwar Kumar could be in line for an ODI debut after an impressive performance in Bangalore.
India (likely) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Rohit Sharma/Ravindra Jadeja, 7 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashok Dinda
Stats and Trivia
- Virat Kohli, with 1026 runs in 2012, needs to score another 159 to beat Kumar Sangakkara's tally of 1184 runs. Kohli is currently placed third, behind Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan (1119). Kohli has only one match to try to move up the list.
- India have won nine ODIs and lost six in 2012.
- India last played a day ODI at home two years ago, in Vadodara against New Zealand.
"Even before the series we were banking on our pacers to put pressure on the Indian batsmen and they succeeded in doing this in the first T20. I hope they continue in the same spirit and rhythm for the one-day series as well."
Pakistan one-day captain Misbah-ul-Haq
"If you ask me, I am not very happy with the rules. I feel ODIs have seen lot a of changes over the years. People talk a lot about Test cricket and T20 Internationals, but I feel all the experiments are forced on the ODI format."
MS Dhoni doesn't like all the experimentation with one-dayers
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo