Preview by Saurabh Somani - Cricbuzz
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London, Sep 9: India's familiar blues on tour continued with the seven-wicket defeat in the rain-shortened second ODI, which means a first international victory on tour has still eluded the former World Number One Test team and the current World Champions. The tour has, in fact, reached a point where the Indians can be thankful that even if they lost the previous match, at least they didn't lose any more players to injury.
India can also take some heart from the fact that the previous ODI was more a T20 match for all practical purposes, and they perform much better over 50 overs than over 20 overs. Given that the forecast for tomorrow is only for partly cloudy skies, we may witness a full 50-overs match for the first time in the series.
India: Even though they haven't won anything so far in the limited-overs leg of the series, the tourists have looked a lot more competitive than they were in the Test matches. The biggest gain for India has, almost paradoxically, been in the area they were supposed to feel the pinch of injuries the most: the openers. Without Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir, the opening pair of Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane have performed superbly. Parthiv has rediscovered his batting talent, while the country has discovered Rahane. And in truth, Rahane has looked very much at home on the international stage.
He is among the few men in domestic cricket who have been knocking fairly loudly on the doors of selection with mountains of runs, and his performance vindicates the faith people had in him. A full 50-over match will also suit Rahul Dravid more, instead of the hit-everything-in-sight 20-over one, where there is no time to build an innings. Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli too have shown signs of good form in the recent matches, which makes India's batting appear fairly robust. The problem, as always, is in the bowling. If India can fix that, they could still avoid a blank slate for the tour.
England: England are walking on a bed of roses at the moment, and nothing they are doing is going wrong. And when it has gone marginally wrong - such as in the first ODI - rain has arrived, almost as if to wipe away the memories of any match not dominated in this series. In the Twenty20 match, England huffed and puffed to victory, aided a little by India losing the plot while batting. In the 23-over ODI, it seemed the bowlers had not done the job, but the batsmen made a stiff target look like a stroll in the park. Alastair Cook has been in the form of his life for the past few months.
He's scored 382 runs off 381 balls at an average of 76.4 in his past 7 ODIs, and for a man whose career average and strike-rate are 40.00 and 78.33, those numbers show the kind of zone Cook has hit as a batsman. Craig Kieswetter, who might have been under mild pressure earlier, smashed 46 off 25 balls in the previous match, and though Jonathan Trott didn't play the 2nd ODI, his career average of an astounding 53.5 tells its own story. Even though England's bowling has not looked as threatening as it did with the red ball in Test matches, it has been leaps ahead of the Indian bowling, and has therefore managed to be adequate.
Last Word: India need one of their batsmen to play an outstanding innings, with the others chipping in around him, because their best bet lies in winning the game with their batting. If England can prevent the Indian batsmen from batting on, even reasonable knocks from the tourists will most likely not be enough to secure a first win.
India (From): MS Dhoni(w/c), Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, Subramaniam Badrinath, RP Singh, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Vinay Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Aaron, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Manoj Tiwary
England (From): Alastair Cook(c), Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach, Samit Patel, Ben Stokes, Craig Kieswetter(w)