The Asian Age
India look to wrap it up in Birmingham
WRAP IT UP IN BIRMINGHAM
Birmingham, Sept. 1: An unassailable lead in their pocket, India will look to clinch the one- day series against England by putting up yet another dominating display when the two sides square off in the fourth onedayer here on Tuesday.
The visitors have a 2- 0 lead in the series after the 133run ( D/ L) win at Cardiff and a six- wicket victory at Nottingham in the second and third ODIs, respectively. This was after the first ODI at Bristol was abandoned due to incessant rain.
At Edgbaston then, the Men in Blue will hope to wrap things up with one match remaining in the series. Their confidence will stem from the fact that England have been unable to challenge them in the two matches played so far. On current evidence, in limited- overs cricket, the hosts appear to be a completely different animal that takes the field in the Test arena.
Like every other team they too are building up to the 2015 World Cup in Australia - New Zealand, but they are beset with problems. A lot of quarters have criticised Alastair Cook’s batting at the top of the order but along with Alex Hales, he has put up two fifty partnerships in two games.
That isn’t the trouble though. His captaincy has been under the scanner and while the 3- 1 Test series win helped silence his critics, even his closest supporters — read Graeme Swann — do not believe that he should lead his country in the World Cup.
However, that is done and dusted, he will do so, and England’s problems mount from there. Cook’s captaincy is quite unimaginative in the sense that he doesn’t feel the need to play two off- spinners in the XI. This conventional thinking has always been England’s downfall in limited- overs cricket, and that is the summation of their problems.
At Nottingham, for example, they should have attacked Suresh Raina-Ambati Rayudu when they were deployed by Dhoni within the first 20 overs of the English innings. The score read 80- odd for 1 wicket at that juncture and any other team would have looked to murder the Indian bowling. Such attacking intent is missing from England.
It is perhaps the reason why they haven’t won anything of value in this 50- over format, leave alone a single ICC trophy.
Their last major ODI win was in New Zealand in early 2013 which was quickly avenged when the Kiwis won in England later that summer. Since then they have beaten West Indies ( earlier in 2014) and won one- off matches against Ireland and Scotland. They have been drubbed twice by Australia and beaten by Sri Lanka at home in this interim, so much so that their final appearance in the 2013 Champions Trophy looks like a happy aberration.
Does this mean India’s upswing in form in last two ODIs is a miscalculation? It could be, since this same team struggled a lot in South Africa and New Zealand, wherein conditions were more similar to the ones that will be prevailing in the quadrennial event in 2015.
India’s openers found it tough to get starts against more disciplined bowling attacks.
The middle order couldn’t take the subsequent pressure and only Virat Kohli and Dhoni himself were among the runs in New Zealand. Here, the former’s poor run- of- form has been shaded by the Indian success riding on others’ shoulders.
India’s own World Cup plans have been hit by Rohit Sharma’s finger injury. This is their last overseas ODI assignment before the triseries in Australia later in January, a dress rehearsal for their title defence.