February 5, 2001

Hyderabad geared up for series decider

The 4th of February is a special day for Rob Ferley. Nineteen years ago on that day he came into this world. Birthdays are an occasion to remember and yet Ferley will hold his 19th birthday especially close to his heart. Bowling an inspired spell of left arm spin, Ferley scalped 4/32 and bowled England to victory against India in their encounter at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Ground. The Kent youngster would do well to duplicate his effort in the third and final One-Day encounter to be played at the Lal Bahadur Stadium at Hyderabad. With the series level, both teams have everything to play for.

The Indians at least won the 'Test' series, and that certainly is every purists dream. Yet, for an England side to spend so much time in India and go back empty handed would be rather disappointing. The tour so far has thrown up many surprises and indeed players with much resolve. The man who made the difference on the last occasion, was Ferley. "Initially we thought 250 was 10 or 20 runs short. But even with 250 on the board we knew we had a good chance of winning. It's not that easy to chase a target if the bowlers keep the ball on a good line and length," said Ferley shortly after the second One-Dayer.

"We have everything to play for really," he volunteered, talking about the final clash. But he wasn't the only one who came out with flying colours. Easily the most impressive youngster on this tour, skipper Ian Bell played a classy knock, scoring 91 before falling to a tired shot. Apart from handling the bowling with ease, Bell also had his captaincy spot on in the second One-Dayer. That is something that will play a key part in the forthcoming clash.

The Indian batsmen, for all their talent, have flattered to deceive. Southpaw Gautam Gambhir bats like a millionaire while the team's cause would be better served if he curbed his strokeplay outside the off stump. Vinayak Mane, who has scored a pile of runs in this series missed the last game with a bit of a stiff shoulder. Arindam Das who took his place was dismissed for a duck is likely to give way to Mane if the Mumbai opener recovers in time.

Indian coach Roger Binny was optimistic about India's chances, "All we need to do is put up a good batting display. Our batsmen have looked good and yet not gone on to make a big score." That really summed up the Indian performance. Binny added that the Indians were not looking to alter their plans for the final encounter. Instead they were looking to concentrate on the basics. "It would be nice if we won the toss too," said Binny with a wry smile.

Indeed the toss could play a vital role. The pitch at the Lal Bahadur Stadium looks the same as it was in the earlier game - a bit of an enigma. Although it is flat and hard and seemingly full of runs, there is also a suggestion that it might play low and slow. Either way the team winning the toss, and presumably electing to bat first, will have the edge.

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