Under-pressure England face Tendulkar challenge
Match factsNov 23, 2008
Start time 1430 (0900 GMT)
Big PictureEngland were thrashed in Rajkot and comprehensively beaten in Indore but improved their performance in Kanpur. The gap between the teams has narrowed with every game but, at 3-0 to India, the series has reached a stage where England have to win in Bangalore to keep it alive.
Should the toss go Kevin Pietersen's way, there are a couple of extraneous factors that could aid England. Sunday's encounter is the first day-night match of the series and, if England's batsmen post a competitive total, England's bowlers could use the conditions under floodlights to put the Indian batting line-up under pressure, as they did in Kanpur. The other variable is the weather in Bangalore which at the moment is typically Manchester - wet and overcast. England's chances of victory are greater in a low-scoring contest - their batsmen are more adept at nudging difficult runs and the conditions could aid their fast bowlers.
Sunday's match is an opportunity for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to win another limited-overs trophy but to achieve that he will need to forget the controversy that arose on the eve of the match and focus on the game. The Indian selectors changed a winning combination when they picked the squad for the fourth and fifth ODIs and Dhoni reportedly expressed his displeasure at RP Singh's axeing. He was certainly angry when the issue was raised at Saturday's press conference.
The other change to the squad, however, will boost a team already high on confidence. Sachin Tendulkar, who had asked to be rested for the first three ODIs, will return to the team and is likely open the innings with Virender Sehwag. His inclusion, however, will split the Sehwag-Gautam Gambhir partnership that has given India outstanding starts in 2008 and could give England a tiny window of opportunity.
Form guide (last 5 completed ODIs, most recent first)India WWWLW
Watch out for:Tendulkar hasn't played an ODI since March but he was in fluent form in the recent Tests against Australia, against whom he scored 396 runs at 56.57. His return to the top of the order will add experience to a batting line-up full of dashing stroke-players.
Andrew Flintoff was a force with the ball in Kanpur. He hurried Yuvraj Singh with a bouncer after which he had a long, hard stare at the batsman. The next ball was a bouncer off which Yuvraj holed out in the deep. Flintoff is beginning to get into his stride and needs his team-mates to back him up.
Indian spin: England's batsmen have struggled to build momentum during the overs when Dhoni uses the spinners. Harbhajan Singh was the Man of the Match in Kanpur for his 3 for 31 and even Yuvraj has bowled long spells and contained the England batsmen.
Team newsTendulkar's return is a certainty but what is less clear is whom he is going to replace. Rohit Sharma's scores in this series are 11 not out, 3 and 28 and it's likely that he will make way for Tendulkar. Gambhir will drop down to No. 3, giving India's top order the look it had when winning the tri-series in Australia earlier this year. Ishant had a poor game in Kanpur, conceding 12 of India's 17 extras, but India are unlikely to change their bowling attack.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Munaf Patel.
England made several changes to their batting order in the last game in Kanpur, promoting Ravi Bopara to open, Pietersen to No. 3, and dropping Owais Shah and Matt Prior to Nos 6 and 8. They are likely to persist with that plan after the Bopara-Ian Bell combination produced 79 runs in quick time. They could make a change to the bowling attack, however, replacing the out-of-form James Anderson with Steve Harmison.
England (probable): 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Ian Bell, 3 Kevin Pietersen (capt), 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Andrew Flintoff, 6 Owais Shah, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Matt Prior (wk), 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Steve Harmison.
Pitch and conditionsBangalore has had daily showers in the run-up to the match and the meteorological department has predicted moderate to heavy rain over the weekend. The pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, however, is expected to be full of runs. "It's a sporting wicket, and should assist the batsmen more than the bowlers," the curator Narayan Raju said. "The ball will come on to the bat nicely." In the last ODI at this venue, in September 2007, Australia scored 307 for 7 before rain interrupted play shortly into the Indian innings and forced the match to be abandoned.
Stats & Trivia
- Gambhir isn't unfamiliar with batting at No 3. He's played 18 innings in that position and scored 697 runs at an average of 46.46 with two hundreds.
- England batsmen have scored only seven hundreds in 43 ODIs in India, compared to Australia's 19 centuries in 63 ODIs, and West Indies' 17 in 62 matches.
- England had a dot-ball percentage of nearly 58 in Kanpur, while India's percentage was almost 60. The dot-ball percentages for England in Rajkot and Indore were 51 and 62 compared to India's 45 and 52.
- Anderson's been in poor bowling form in 2008. In 19 matches this year, he has taken only 10 wickets at an average of 71 in 19 ODIs, compared to a career average of 31.
Quotes"If you lose this game, you lose the series. It's a big game. We have got to do it here in Bangalore. From now on, every game is a final game."
England coach Peter Moores knows how big the stakes are on Sunday.
"We want him [Tendulkar] to play as long as possible and whenever he is available he should play. He has played his part in Indian cricket and it's up to the upcoming players to get the most out of him. The more he plays, the more it benefits the youngsters."
Dhoni on Tendulkar's return to the team.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.