After washout, India desperate to get cracking in Cardiff ODI
Rocked by one controversy after another, India will be hoping the spotlight shifts to the cricketing action as they take on an upbeat England side in the second One-Day International in Cardiff, on Wednesday.
With the first match in Bristol being washed out without a ball being bowled, the team will be itching to perform in a format where Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have excelled over the years.
Some on-field action will also mean that skipper Dhoni will be able to focus on cricket, after his comments supporting chief coach Duncan Fletcher did not got down well with some officials in the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
A feature during this tour is captain Dhoni's firm point of views.
It happened in the Ravindra Jadeja-James Anderson case during the Tests and then after losing the series 1-3 when he hinted that perhaps he had done enough as the Indian Test skipper.
This is the third instance and he suddenly finds that he is not on the same page with the Board of Control for Cricket in India. With simmering tension, all parties though will be hoping for clear weather in Cardiff then as some cricket will do well to cool down tempers.
In terms of cricket there wasn't much to take away from Bristol, except the pre-match practice on Sunday.
For Indian batsmen, this meant big shots sailing out of the park at every opportunity possible.
Almost every batsman concentrated on hitting out in a bid to get away from the Test mindset. Dhoni himself led the way, with Rohit Sharma and Stuart Binny also using their long handles well.
Suresh Raina too had a little hitting-out session towards the end.
While their hits cleared the nets and the ground-limits with ease, it was a pity that they didn't get to test the ground's small boundaries on Monday. Even so, it wasn't easy to identify which players could be the ones in the Indian playing eleven.
Usually they practice as per the intended batting order, but this wasn't the case. There was no particular order observable and it almost seemed that they wanted to confuse those watching.
Dhoni had not given any hints in his pre-match press conference either, but he did mention that Rohit Sharma had done a decent enough job as opener.
It bodes well for the Mumbai batsman who did open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan in the practice game versus Middlesex, and looks set to do so in the near-future as well.
While Rohit spent a lot of time in the nets on Sunday, Dhawan had a long chat with team director Ravi Shastri before he went out to bat. Shastri was also seen having a conversation with Virat Kohli, who had a poor run with the bat in the Test series, but seems to have regained some form back after hitting a half-century in the practice match.
Team Indian coach Fletcher, concentrated on watching his wards keenly as always before taking Dhawan, Raina and Ajinkya Rahane aside for slip-catching practice.
Right-hander Ambati Rayudu, who also hit a half-century against Middlesex, had a hit in the nets before he rolled his arm over for some part time spin to Dhoni and the other batsmen.
It must also be kept in mind that Rayudu did bowl in New Zealand and later in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh as well. Unless rain relents in Cardiff, this mystery of who will play at number five or six for India will not be solved.
There is one surety though. Sanju Samson will not be making his debut anytime soon unless Dhoni sits out due to some unforeseen circumstances.
In the Bristol nets, he loitered around as the whole team practised, only having a nets after everyone was done. In comparison, leg-spinner Karn Sharma looked far busier, doing his bit with both bat and ball.
While the two frontline spinners Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are the two automatic picks in limited overs matches, it will not be surprising if Karn does come into the picture at some point to add variety to the attack through his leg-spin.
One youngster, who was drafted into the ODI squad for his country's preparations for the 2015 ODI World Cup, who was sure to play in Bristol and will be so in Cardiff too, is Alex Hales.
While his counterpart was evasive as ever about the first-choice eleven, England skipper Alastair Cook was quite happy to admit that Hales indeed will be partnering him at the top of the order. It does mean that Ian Bell will move one spot down to number three.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Dhawal Kulkarni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Jos Buttler (w/k), Steven Finn, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.
Image: Team India in a huddle