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Hurt India seek return to winning ways in England ODIs

August 24, 2014 14:43 IST

Hurt India seek return to winning ways in England ODIs

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Their morale battered by the Test series debacle, India are aiming to make a fresh beginning and salvage lost pride when they take on England in a five-match One-Day International series, starting in Bristol, on Monday.

While India would be keen to return to winning ways following their below-par showing in the Tests, they would also to balance their approach by trying out a few new players keeping next year's World Cup in mind.

The 50-overs World Cup, to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, is now just six months away and every ODI played by India from now on will be a preparatory step towards defending their 2011 crown Down Under.

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Image: (From left to right): Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India
Photographs: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

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Karn Sharma, Samson two new faces in the ODI squad

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India have three ODI series between now and the World Cup -- in England, at home against West Indies and the tri-series in Australia.

Already, the Indian selectors have taken stock of the situation at hand and the 17-man squad is a reflection of their thoughts.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson and leg-spinner Karn Sharma are the two new faces in the ODI squad but there is a question-mark over how many opportunities these two youngsters will get in the current five-match series.

This is because the middle-order and all-rounder slots have enough contenders at the moment.

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Image: Karn Sharma
Photographs: BCCI

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All-rounder Binny useful in conditions that assist swing

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Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin will fill up the two spin options in the playing eleven. Earlier this year in New Zealand, in the fourth ODI at Hamilton, Stuart Binny came in as the all-rounder and his exploits in Bangladesh proved that he is quite useful in conditions that assist swing.

However, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a little circumspect about using four medium pace options as it slows down the over-rate.

It will be interesting to see if he will opt for two spinners straight-away, irrespective of conditions in Bristol, given that Binny didn't get to bowl in the warm-up game against Middlesex on Friday.

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Image: Stuart Binny of India
Photographs: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

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India have a lot of options in the fast bowling department

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Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami bowled short spells in the practice as the former got a deserved break after his heavy workload in the Tests, while the latter would need to strike form following his disappointing showing in the Tests.

India have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to the third pacer with Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni also in the squad.

It has to be a careful choice in terms of the attack's balance. This is because on the last two overseas tours, Dhoni always won the toss and opted to bowl first with just one exception.

On seven such occasions in South Africa and New Zealand, India conceded 358, 281, 301, 292, 271, 314 and 303. The one time they batted first, in Hamilton, they couldn't defend 278.

Playing five bowlers isn't a choice but a clearly forced strategic move and it seems to impact the batting as India have to play six batsmen including Dhoni.

On the seven occasions they chased in South Africa and New Zealand, they failed on five occasions with a tie in Auckland (one washout).

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Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar (left) bowls in the nets as team mate Ishant Sharma looks on
Photographs: Scott Heavey/Getty Images

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India need openers to fire in England

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Chasing a huge total puts pressure on the openers for a good start, and if the team loses an early wicket, it puts a lot of pressure on the middle-order, something which India has experienced a lot in their last few matches.

The partnerships between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in the six (Virat Kohli opened once with Sharma) matches they opened together on those two tours were 14, 10, 15, 22, 64 and 8.

While the series in South Africa was too short for any batsman to make an impact, in New Zealand Dhoni and Kohli contributed at different times from the middle order.

Yuvraj Singh was not part of the latter tour and Ajinkya Rahane got a long run. He scored 7, 36, 3, 3 and 2. Ambati Rayudu was given two chances when Suresh Raina was dropped there, and he scored 37 and 20.

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Image: Rohit Sharma
Photographs: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

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Raina might get the nod ahead of Rayudu and Rahane

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The Rahane/Rayudu/Raina conundrum is an interesting one. Raina has been shifted up and down the order since the 2013-14 home season and his form has suffered. He was dropped for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. Now he returns again after an indifferent Indian Premier League season and an unspectacular tour to Bangladesh again. However, his ability to bowl a few overs of off-spin and play attacking shots in the final overs gives him the edge ahead of both Rahane and Rayudu.

Against Middlesex, where 11 batsmen were tried, Raina came in to bat last, after Jadeja, Ashwin, Samson and Karn Sharma, in order to gain practice during the death overs. It backfired as he was stumped cheaply while Rayudu played a good innings of 72 runs.

For England, this series bears similarity to the Tests because they were beaten by Sri Lanka prior and now have to turn it around against India. Like everyone else, they too have the World Cup rider attached to it, more so because this is their final outing at home before the big tournament.

Keeping this in mind, there have been certain changes to the squad that played against Lanka. Dropping Ravi Bopara has come as a surprise, while Tim Bresnan and Michael Carberry have also been left out.

Steve Finn fills in for Stuart Broad who will undergo his long pending knee surgery. Most notable is the inclusion of Alex Hales, who will now open the innings with skipper Alastair Cook and provide an explosive option at the top, as Ian Bell will slide down the order.

Hales, Bell, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler retain enough fire-power to trouble the Indian bowling attack. Will Dhoni persist with his bowl-first strategy seen in ODIs outside the sub-continent?

Teams:

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: Suresh Raina
Photographs: Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images

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