PHOTOS: Team India look to seal series in Mohali
Just a win away from pocketing the five-match ODI series against England, a confident Indian team today underwent a rigorous training session sans Gautam Gambhir and Praveen Kumar at the PCA stadium in Mohali.
The Indian team, led by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, trooped in at the stadium to use the nets first but in-form left-handed batsman Gambhir and pacer Praveen were conspicuous by their absence.
An official from the Indian team said that the practice session was not an official one and so both Gambhir and Praveen referred not to take to part in it.
However, sources said that Gambhir had returned to Chandigarh this afternoon only from his home city New Delhi where he had gone for his marriage-related work.
Led by Dhoni, the home batsmen faced local bowlers and team-mates at the nets before going through fielding drills besides some stretching exercises.
'We have to do well in Mohali'
Pushed on the backfoot by two heavy defeats against India, England captain Alastair Cook reckons that he has "got the right players" to stage a turnaround in the ODI series and it was just a case of the team not performing to its potential.
India defeated England for a comprehensive eight-wicket win in the second one-day international in New Delhi on Monday.
"After two heavy defeats, there is bound to be some questions asked about the team. We have the self-belief and there is no reason why we can't do it here," Cook said.
The England captain admitted that the two huge defeats will put some doubts in the mind on whether changes are required in the playing combination to be able to put it across the hosts.
Cook said it will be a challenge for him to keep his team in the right frame of mind for the do-or-die game in Mohali on October 20. "It will be a challenge to make sure that everyone is in the right frame of mind. We have to do well in Mohali," he added.
Kohli is in good form
India will again rely on the in-form Virat Kohli to score big.
Kohli's unbeaten 112 was not only his seventh ODI ton but also the first century by an Indian at the Kotla in 15 years. Tendulkar was the last Indian to hit a century, during the 1996 World Cup match against Sri Lanka.
He, along with Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir (84 not out), also set a new record for the third-wicket partnership against England, eclipsing the previous best of 175 between Navjot Singh Siddhu and Mohammad Azharuddin. It was also the highest third-wicket partnership at the Kotla, surpassing the record of Sachin Tendulkar and Azharuddin, who had stitched 175 runs.
The result, India won with as many as 80 balls to spare.
KP will look to convert his starts
Kevin Pietersen has had starts in both the matches but has failed to convert them.
In Mohali, the South Arica born player will look to do exactly that.
At Kotla, Pietersen (46) survived a few anxious moments early in his innings to add 48 runs for the third wicket with Jonathan Trott (34).
He and Bopara (36) then added 73 runs for the fourth wicket to steady the English ship.
'I am happy with my performance'
R Vinay Kumar, who returned with career-best figures of four for 30 at Kotla, will look to carry for ward his good form.
The bowler is happy with the ICC's new rule of using two new balls in an ODI innings as it helps him swing the ball more.
"I am feeling good. I am happy with my performance.
"Initially, the white ball didn't swing much. But using two new balls has been very helpful for bowlers," he was quoted as saying at the PCA stadium.
"Previously, the ball used to swing max 5-6 overs but now it keeps on swinging for 10-12 overs. It (two new ball) is a plus factor for bowlers," he added.
'It is a typical Mohali track'
England will hope that Craig Kieswetter comes good with the bat.
The stumper has failed in both the ODIs. Jonathan Trott has looked in good touch but has failed to score big.
Meanwhile, The match will be played on a "typical" Mohali pitch, which promises to produce an even contest between bat and ball, curator Daljit Singh has said.
Mohali, one of India's finest cricket stadia, is known for its pace and bounce that subsides as the match progresses, making the affair an even contest. And Daljit claimed this time also there won't be much of a difference.
"It is a typical Mohali track. There is grass on it which we have deliberately kept but the wicket will look completely different tomorrow," Daljit said during a guided tour of the pitch to the mediapersons.
"The thinner the grass, the faster the ball will come to the bat. But from now onwards the cracks will open up and the pitch will become much whiter and dryer. It is a typical wicket, a good batting track," added the curator, admitting that dew might play a major role.
"The dew factor will definitely be there but we are trying to minimise it. We are using ASPA-80 spray to negate the dew factor," he insisted.
With a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, India take on England in the third ODI tomorrow, hoping to seal the series.