February 1, 2001

Run fest on the cards as Colts lock horns in one-dayers

When touring sides come to India they certainly get the red carpet rolled out for them in every hotel and club they go to. No luxury is considered a waste. While this might be the case off the field, the kind of pitches rolled out make even the most expansive luxury seem tiresome. After a slow turner at Mumbai saw India go 1-0 up in the three 'Test' series, the wickets served up in subsequent games have been anything but sporting. The 22 yards of road that the second and third 'Tests' were played on saw batsmen make merry at the experience of some very weary bowlers. With the first of three One-Dayers being played in Hyderabad on Friday, the England side can expect more of the same.

Tim Boon, coach of the England team is fully aware of the gravity of the situation, "If the Indian batsmen get going, we could be looking at scores of 350 plus," he said with a guarded smile. While conceding that, Boon is still optimistic, "Even if the Indian batsmen do get going, we have the resources to chase big totals," he added. Talking about the contrast in the ways the two teams approached batting, the former Leicestershire opening batsman conceded, "While the Indian batsmen tend to go after the bowling, they always give us a chance." This line of thought was certainly upheld by the Indian batsmen through the Test series where numerous catches were given - and spilled in the series.

"I think about 20 catches were put down between both teams in the last 'Test'. The fielding certainly has not been up to the standards expected at this level," Boon said. In the same breath, he hoped that the One-Dayers would see a much more disciplined display.

The England side have little to lose going into the limited over games. After putting up a good fight in the third 'Test', at least a few players would have gained confidence. None more so than the Essex left-arm mediumpacer Justin Bishop. Bowling with character on a wicket that was flat enough to break any fast bowler's heart, Bishop picked up the first five wicket haul by any Englishman on this tour. The other crucial wheel in the English One-Day cricket machine is Nicky Peng. After carting the ball all over the park in Chennai where he made a hundred, Peng helped himself to a breezy 72 in the third 'Test.' The Durham top order bat will have to come out with all guns blazing if England are to take the attack to the rampaging Indians.

In his turn, Indian coach Roger Binny is confident. "We have some really talented cricketers. The openers have been in fine nick through the 'Tests.' Both Vinayak Mane and Gautam Gambhir have made big scores and that should give them a lot of confidence," the former Indian allrounder said.

The Indian side for the One-Dayers is unlikely to be very different from the team that played the longer duration games. The inclusion of middle order bat Arjun Yadav, wicketkeeper batsman Amit Deshpande and Manvinder Bisla gives the Indian think-tank a few extra options. It is possible that Yadav will find a place in the middle order which has been brittle at times.

The three match One-Day series is likely to be a spectator's dream. Coming from England where most Under-19 games don't see any manner of crowd at all, several English players have been inquiring keenly about the numbers expected at the One-Dayers. While one can't put even an approximate number on that, one thing is certain. The bat will come down hard on the ball on flat pitches and race across quick outfields. If you're the kind of person who enjoys watching boundaries scored at will, make your way to Hyderabad for the first One-Dayer.

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