Daijiworld Media Network
Chennai, Dec 30: After a cracking T20I series which involved two nail-biting games, we move on to the ODI series which starts today at Chennai. India Pakistan is always a big game irrespective of the format and today will be no different. There were some concerns about the weather playing spoilsport but it looks sunny at the moment.
Pakistan have won the toss and elected to field.
Dhoni: 'Definitely there will be something for the fast bowlers, we were looking to field first. The game is changing, we are playing with new rules and the format is very demanding. We haven't got a clue what a good score is. One thing is to keep wickets in hand as we have explosive players later on who can capitalise. Sehwag replaces Rahane - that's the only change from the T20I team.'
Misbah: 'From the last two days it has been raining and the covers have been on, so we want to utilise the moisture underneath. We are satisfied with the players we have. Our goal is to play good cricket and the team showed it in the T20I series. Azhar Ali, Younis Khan are back. Umar Akmal misses out, so does Sohail Tanvir - Junaid replaces him.'
Pakistan (Playing XI): Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq(c), Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal(w), Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan
India (Playing XI): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Ishant Sharma
Pitch report: There was rain yesterday so there will be moisture on it. Little more grass than normal on the wicket. 'I have played in Chennai and have never seen grass like this before', says Wasim Akram. The batting side have to see off the early period to get runs on this pitch. Fielding first is the way to go according to Ravi Shastri.
For Pakistan it will be Misbah who will captain - remember he is still the ODI captain and not Hafeez. For India Sehwag is back at the top of the order. Should be interesting to see what lineups both teams go with
Preview by Gokul Gopal
A well-fought T20I series ended with equal honours and both India and Pakistan will be at it again, trying to out-smart each other in the three-match ODI series that begins in Chennai. The year has not been all that good for India, who will be looking to finish off 2012 on a high while Pakistan will be hoping to end the year with their second win against India. (India won the Asia Cup ODI and were victorious in the World T20 match against Pakistan while the recently concluded T20I series was a 1-1 finish)
Going by what happened in the T20I series, the one-dayers also promise a lot of exhilarating action. However, weather remains the biggest concern for the opening ODI as it has been raining continuously for two days in Chennai. With showers being predicted for the match day and the overnight rain not leaving much for the ground to dry, a complete wash-out may not be ruled out.
India have a few positives to take from the 2-match T20I series. Gautam Gambhir looked woefully out of touch in the Test series against England, but he has slowly been regaining some touch. While the left-hander took some time to get his eye in the opening T20I against Pakistan, he did settle down and has been looking quite assured with his batting. Ajinkya Rahane, who showed some spunk in the T20I series, is likely to be competing for a spot in the middle order with the arrival of Virender Sehwag to the ODI fold. Sehwag's presence is always a challenging proposition for the opposition and an explosive batsman of the calibre of Sehwag being in the team is always a big boost for India in any format of the game. Virat Kohli, at number three, has not quite produced the runs against Pakistan in the matches so far, but the quality player that he is, India will be expecting substantial contributions from him during the ODIs. Another player contesting for a spot in the middle order is Rohit Sharma. Although he has not done much justice to the immense talent he possesses, Rohit, who will be contesting for a spot with Rahane and possibly with Ravindra Jadeja, will be eager to prove a point. Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni complete the middle order. Yuvraj has been in good touch with the bat and the blistering knock that he produced in the last game, will give the left-handed all-rounder a lot of confidence. Dhoni too has been batting well recently and is a key member of the middle order.
Coming to India's bowling, Ishant Sharma will be the leader of the pace attack that also has Ashok Dinda and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who in all likelihood will make his ODI debut after a dream start to his international career with a 3/9 in the opening T20 match. Although he was left out of both the T20s, R Ashwin is still the main spinner in the Indian line-up. Yuvraj and Jadeja are also useful left-arm spinners while Amit Mishra, with his leg-spin, lends variety. The question to be asked is, what kind of attack will Dhoni opt for and will they be disciplined enough to restrict the Pakistani batsmen?
The visitors also have a pretty solid batting line-up, capable of posting or chasing down big totals, although they have been lacking on the consistency level. Mohammad Hafeez, who came up a brilliant knock at Ahmedabad, although in a losing cause, is a reliable opening batsmen. However, it is to be seen if he will open or come in at number three like he did in the T20Is. Nasir Jamshed is also someone who can be counted upon at the top of the order while Pakistan also have the option of Imran Farhat. ODI captain Misbah-ul-Haq returns to boost the side in the middle order while the presence of Younis Khan is an added advantage, despite the latter not having seen much action of late. Azhar Ali, who is equally adept at opening the innings and batting in the middle order, is a good addition to the side. Shoaib Malik, after a terrific performance in Bangalore, has been included in the ODI squad and will have a key role to play, if selected in the eleven. To round up the middle order, Pakistan have the Akmal brothers, who are capable of being match-winners.
More than batting, Pakistan consider their bowling to be their most important weapon said Hafeez before the start of the India series. The presence of world-class bowlers such as Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal supports Hafeez' claim, who himself is more than a useful off-spinner, apart from being a fine batsman. Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan, quality left-arm seamers, are also in the line-up while Pakistan decided to include the 7-feet tall left-arm pacer Mohammad Irfan for the ODIs, after an impressive showing in the T20Is. Whoever makes it to the line-up, all Misbah will be asking for is a 100 percent effort on their part.
Head to head:
Pakistan have had a better run than the hosts in the 50-over matches played in India. In a total of 27 matches against India in India, Pakistan have won 17 while ending up on the losing side 10 times. In terms have series victories, Pakistan have three against their sub-continent rivals while India have managed 2 series wins in their backyard.
He is a bit different. You can say that he is about one foot different to some of our bowlers. He gets lot of bounce and bowls at decent pace. We have to watch out for him: MS Dhoni wants his batsmen to be wary of Mohammad Irfan.