Preview by Gokul Gopal - Cricbuzz
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London, Sep 16: While India will be heaving a sigh of relief that their nightmarish tour of England is heading to a finish, they would also be desperately hoping to leave the country with at least one win under their belt. There is also the added motivation to do well and give Rahul Dravid, playing his final ODI at Cardiff, a fitting farewell. The hosts, on the other hand, will not let India go off the hook easily. Having already clinched the ODI series, Alastair Cook would be expecting his team to finish off with yet another win.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have performed spiritedly in the limited overs games despite not being able to taste any success. They came close to registering their first win of the tour at Lord's in their previous match. However, rain and Duckworth-Lewis had the final say and after several interruptions, the match ended up as a tie. But the eventual result of the 4th ODI aside, the Indian team, particularly the batsmen, have fared quite well. While Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel have provided good starts at the top, Suresh Raina and Dhoni have looked solid down the order and have also been involved in leading a couple of remarkable recoveries when the visitors lost wickets in a heap. Ravindra Jadeja also made an impression straightaway, after being drafted into the Indian side. His all-round effort in the third ODI earned him the Man of the Match award. Rahul Dravid and Virat Kohli are the ones short of runs in the ODIs. While Dravid's highest is the 32 he scored in the 2nd ODI, Kohli, apart from the 55 in the opening game, has not contributed much. It will be the final ODI match for 'The Wall' and he will be keen to give an all-out effort for one last time.
The lack of penetration in the bowling attack has been one of the main reasons for India's failure in the England tour and that continued into the ODI series as well. Despite the batsmen performing well, the bowling lacked intent, resulting in India losing the second and the third ODIs. However, there has been some improvement since then with R Ashwin leading the pack to bring back some credibility to the Indian bowling. The off-spinner has combined well with Jadeja to keep the pressure on England, reaping the rewards by adding some wickets to his tally too. While RP Singh and Praveen Kumar have been amongst the wickets, they haven't been able to trouble England much. Munaf Patel has had an indifferent tour - looking good when trying to contain, but proving to be ineffective and expensive when going for the wickets. But Dhoni has backed Munaf despite several calls for dropping him and including Varun Aaron in his place. It is likely that the Indian skipper will persist with the same side for the final game unless he decides to rest a few players and test the bench.
England: England have not been as flamboyant in the ODIs as they were in the Test series. However, they have been able to keep India from winning a single game thanks to some plucky performances from a few of the batters. Ravi Bopara came up with a valuable knock to get the home side through in the third ODI and his knock of 96 in the fourth ODI was the main reason that the match ended in a tie after India looked favourites at one stage. But England's main concern has been that their batsmen have not been able to convert starts to good scores and this has been the reason for them not being able to establish themselves as a premier limited overs side. While Jonathan Trott has not had the best of runs in the ODIs, the likes of Kieswetter and Bell have not been able to cement their presence despite getting off to good starts. The English skipper too has failed to capitalize on starts, apart from his match-winning 80 not-out in the second game.
England's bowling was top notch during the Test series but has not been able to match up to that level in the limited overs games. Having said that, the bowlers have been pretty consistent with their lines and lengths and if they have unimpressive figures in a few games it has been more due to the Indians batting well. Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann and James Anderson have been England's main wicket-takers, while Steven Finn was also impressive with his pace and line during the fourth game despite not picking up wickets. With a pretty well-balanced attack, England would be counting on the bowlers to inflict damage on the Indians while hoping for the batsmen to settle down.
Weather: Rain has thwarted India's hopes of winning a game many a time in this series. It seems the weather gods might not relent at all as the forecast once again is for light rain for most part of the afternoon and some towards the evening. This could lead to a curtailed game once again, and MS Dhoni will be hoping that he can win the toss at least once and put England in to bat.
England (From): Alastair Cook(c), Craig Kieswetter(w), Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Ben Stokes, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Samit Patel
India (From): MS Dhoni(w/c), Ajinkya Rahane, Parthiv Patel, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra, Subramaniam Badrinath, Vinay Kumar, Varun Aaron, Manoj Tiwary
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