Saturday, January 19, 2013

India retain squad for remaining ODIs against England

India retain squad for remaining ODIs against England

The games will be played in Mohali and Dharamsala.

Will Pujara continue warming the bench?India have made no changes to their squad of 15 for the remaining two ODIs against England to be hold in the cold climes of Mohali and Dharamsala

After a poor start to the five-game series in Rajkot, India have crushed England in the next two games in Kochi and Ranchi. While the bowling unit has got its act together, India’s batting remains a concern. 

Ajinkya Rahane, who had come in for the out-of-favour Virender Sehwag, has put in some underwhelming performances in the blue jersey.

His much-demanded return to the Indian squad has seen a string of small scores: 19, 3, 42 and 28 in the four T20s against Pakistan and England, and 4, 47, 4 and 0 in the following ODIs. 

Also on display is a visible technical deficiency – his tendency to play away from the body – that England’s Steven Finn in particular has exploited in the last two games.

The rope that his opening partner Gautam Gambhir has got continues to get longer. Since England’s arrival in India in November, Gambhir’s scores in Tests, ODIs and T20s have been 45, 4, 65, 60, 40, 37, 16, 17, 43, 21, 8, 11, 15, 52, 8 and 33. They’re indicative of numerous good starts thrown away, questioning Gambhir’s waning skills and mental toughness that had once set him apart. 

It also begs the question why the in-form Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t been given a game after being plucked out of the Saurashtra squad. 

As Pujara warms the Indian bench, Saurashtra are on the verge of entering the Ranji Trophy semifinal. It must be tearing the young batsman apart for being out of action when he could have been helping his side make a serious dash for the title. 

With both openers struggling for runs, India need solidity at the start of the innings. In the absence of other options, it could be worthwhile asking Pujara to open. Surely, he would do no worse than Rahane or Gambhir. 

Squad: MS Dhoni (C/WK), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Shami Ahmed.

With series locked 1-1, MS Dhoni needs to seize the moment on his home turf against England

With series locked 1-1, MS Dhoni needs to seize the moment on his home turf against England
This city could not have asked for a more ideal scenario as it makes its international debut on Saturday. The One-Day International series against England is locked 1-1, the Indian team registered its most convincing victory of the season in the previous game in Kochi, and hometown hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in the midst of yet another purple patch in his favourite format - which is why the inaugural match at the brand new Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium in Dhurwa was expected to be a high-octane entertainer.
MS Dhoni beats a dhol during inaugural ceremony of JSCA stadium in Ranchi.

It still could be. But on Friday, the entire city's thoughts and prayers will be focused on Dhoni, who got struck on the thumb in the nets and had to go for a scan, with results still awaited.

The stadium, built over the last three years, was inaugurated on Friday by state governor Syed Ahmed in the presence of political bigwigs.

While the India captain will be desperate to lead his team out to the middle on his home turf, he will also hope that the wellrolled centre wicket will finally provide his batsmen a platform to fire collectively.

Even in the last game, which India won by a whopping 127 runs, the top order had to be rescued by Dhoni and his two trusted lieutenants, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, who posted half-centuries to fire the team to 285.

Ajinkya Rahane has had three innings as opener without really making a big mark, while Gautam Gambhir's quick half-century in Rajkot proved another false dawn as he was out cheaply in Kochi.

Virat Kohli showed some semblance of returning to form after a poor run in the last couple of months, while Yuvraj Singh has looked patchy. The Indian bowling seems to be putting up its own production of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

England, on the other hand, have punched above their weight on both legs of the tour, and barring the collapse in Kochi, have been impressive with the bat.

Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen provide contrasting styles at the top three positions, but are all capable of scoring big hundreds, while lower down, the innovation and unorthodoxy of Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel is a great fit.

It is their bowling that needs to pull up its socks after bleeding 108 runs in the last 10 overs in Kochi, and Steven Finn, who has been impressive with the new ball, has to lead the way.

Jade Dernbach, while continuing to pick wickets, has been all over the place and could come under pressure, especially with the steady Tim Bresnan having recovered from an injury.

It would be foolhardy to predict how the pitch will behave with regards to turn and bounce, but the quick outfield and the set formula for ODI pitches do make a run feast more likely than not.

There is a small concern about the dew factor, since there has been quite a bit of it over the last couple of days. With the sun setting earlier here than a large part of the country, the dew could make it difficult for bowlers to grip the ball in the second innings. Winning the toss and fielding, thus, seems to be the way to go.

Jadeja feels fielding first will suit India

Ravindra Jadeja found himself thrust into the press conference room when Mahendra Singh Dhoni got injured, and was a bit more forthcoming than the skipper usually is.

The Saurashtra all-rounder finally showcased his batting and bowling prowess in the same match in the second ODI in Kochi, and feels India will benefit if they bowl first at the JSCA International Stadium here on Saturday.

"It is the first game, so we don't know about the wicket's behaviour - how it will spin or bounce. If we field first, it will be nice because by seeing the other team's batting, we will get an idea of what is happening and what to expect," Jadeja said.

The Kochi win not only levelled the series for India but also gave a much needed boost to their confidence, according to Jadeja.

"We played well in the last game, our energy level was high right from the first ball. We will try to carry the momentum from the last game forward," he said.

Virat Kohli is under pressure after a prolonged form slump, but Jadeja backed the batsman. "Virat has done very well for the country in the last one year. Ups and downs are a part of any cricketer's life and now is the time for Virat to come out of the low," he said.

Eoin Morgan said England bowlers need to improve upon the performance in Kochi. "It was just a matter of not executing the plans. Our plans were good, and we just have to concentrate on executing them better."

India vs England 3rd ODI: Dhoni and Raina are crucial to India’s chances in the match

India vs England 3rd ODI: Dhoni and Raina are crucial to India’s chances in the match

Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round performance and hard hitting of Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought back India in the series as they beat England by 127 runs in the second ODI in Kochi. Another positive in the game was the Indian bowlers who rose to the occasion and delivered when it mattered the most.

Let’s take a look at the players who will play a crucial role in the third ODI in Ranchi.


MS Dhoni: The midas touch of our Indian captain is back and there can’t be a better place than Ranchi for Dhoni to display it. Captain Cool is going through a purple patch and playing at home will make him much more comfortable and help Team India take the English side down.

Yuvraj Singh: This south-paw is taking a nice start in every match but is unable to take it to the next level. But still Yuvi has got all the talent to be one of the best No. 5 batsmen in the world. Saturday can be his day to take a charge on English bowlers.

Suresh Raina: Five fifties in the past 10 matches is absolutely a brilliant display of batting by Raina, but he needs to convert those scores into a three-digit figure. His explosive batting has been very helpful till now and his brilliant fielding efforts can bring a  difference to final score-card .

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: The young lad from UP had an awesome start to his career. His bowling spell of 10 overs at trot in two matches is a very rare site in modern-day cricket. His consistency of picking wickets makes him much more lethal. Though he has lost his pace but his swing will worry the English-batsman.

Alastair Cook: He has been the cause of worry for Indian spin attack and his captaincy is going to get tested in upcoming ODIs .His team has the ability to respond to tough situation very well and that makes him much more confident in taking critical decisions. He can play any shot mentioned in a cricket book. He is the trump card for England team.

Ian Bell: He is one of the players who have performed well in recent matches and his attacking batting can simply change the course of the game. If he has his day, Indian bowlers will have to pay a heavy price for his wicket.

Eoin Morgan: “Mr. Cricket of England", he has not lived upto his reputation in this series. But good players like Morgan need just one match to change the scenario and he has all the fire power to do that.

Steven Finn: Being a leading bowler of England bowling attack, he is the player who can keep England's hope to win the series in India. His awesome bowling spell in his last one day was brilliant and if Hoakes starts bowling in tandem with him, then he can be a bowler to watch out for.

'Drummer' Dhoni hogs limelight during stadium inauguration

'Drummer' Dhoni hogs limelight during stadium inauguration

First he became a drummer, then did an impromptu jig as Mahendra Singh Dhoni enthralled one and all in a different avatar during the inauguration of the newly constructed JSCA Stadium here today.
"Personally, it's a special moment for me. The journey begins tomorrow. It's the beginning of a new innings," Dhoni said in his speech.
Offered the drum by troupe leader Nandlal Nayak, Dhoni, normally a reserved person, readily put the sling around him as the Indian captain joined other 179 drummers who were dressed in warrior style that marked the one-hour inauguration ceremony.
Dressed in a white jacket and a pair of blue denims, Dhoni looked relaxed as he was accompanied to the venue, adjacent to the cricket stadium, by his wife Sakshi.
Addressing the gathering, Dhoni thanked the efforts of the people involved in constructing the stadium which began on June 19, 2009.
Dhoni said the cricket venue would put Ranchi in world map and the Jharkhand capital would need no introduction from now onwards.
"When I first joined the team, people were asking me the place I belonged to. I used to say I am from India and the next thing I would say I am from a place called Ranchi in Jharkhand. I used to explain Ranchi giving various routes like it is a place closer to Kolkata, near Jamshedpur. We are the richest state in natural resources."
"But, after the stadium was built it has now become an international venue. At least, we need not have to explain further about Ranchi in the cricket playing nations," he said proudly.
"It is a proud beginning; proud moment for people of Jharkhand. Now we are looking forward to a lot of support from the people tomorrow. I would like to thank each and everyone who have contributed in the making of the stadium. Now its up to the people of Jharkhand to make tomorrow's game very special," Dhoni concluded.
Describing it as a remarkable piece of work, BCCI supremo N Srinivasan said,"It will now become the pride of this region. I'm very happy for Dhoni who captains the team in all the three formats and also is the skipper of my favourite IPL team (Chennai Super Kings)."
ECB chairman Giles Clarke was also present along with his wife as he termed this an outstanding venue.
"We are really thankful for getting the opportunity to play the first match here," Clarke said.
Earlier state governor Syed Ahmed jointly inaugurated the venue along with BCCI supremo Srinivasan.
The stadium complex houses two tennis courts, an indoor cricket academy, an under construction swimming pool besides the main cricket ground with 39,000 seating capacity.

3rd ODI: India play England, will look to gain lead in series

3rd ODI: India play England, will look to gain lead in series

Captain MS Dhoni during practice at JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi

After huge 127-run win in the second ODI in Kochi, the Indian cricket team under MS Dhoni will look to take lead when they take on England in the third ODI in Ranchi, Jharkhand on Saturday.
After defeat in first ODI in Rajkot, a huge win in the second ODI will give Indian team a lot of confidence.This is also skipper MS Dhoni's home ground, where this is the first international match being played, so there will be lot of expectations of the fans from him.
However, the first day of Dhoni practice in the nets was not a very pleasant experience.
Having enjoyed two days of constant adulation since arriving with the India team to play in the first-ever international match at the new Jharkhand State Cricket Association stadium, the skipper got into serious business at the batting nets adjacent to the main pitch on Friday.
However, currently the best batsman in the squad was soon left wincing in pain after a delivery from bowling coach Joe Dawes thudded into his gloved right thumb. Dhoni left the practice holding the thumb as concern spread among his teammates that the injury could be serious enough to spoil the party for Ranchi's favourite son.
An India team official, however, allayed fears and said it was not serious enough to warrant even a precautionary X-ray and the only 'keeper in the squad would lead the side on Saturday. The India captain to would not want to miss out what will be a proud moment when he goes out to toss before his home fans.
Pitch Concerns
Although that was good news, the India batsmen may not be entirely happy with the way the practice pitch, two strips away from the one on which the match will be played, behaved. Dawes, a well-built man but bowling slow medium-pace from a short run up, extracted appreciable bounce from just short of good length. If the match wicket turns out to be as lively, it can pose a challenge to the top order batsmen who are yet to find their best form.
Ravindra Jadeja also batted on the same strip for quite some time and was repeatedly beaten by Shami Ahmed, who bowled from a shorter run-up but the ball swung and seamed a fair bit.
Jadeja, who will be anxious to build on his all-round performance in Kochi and wipe out the feeling that the south paw is over-rated, betrayed a touch of concern in the home team's ranks as a pitch with some life can play into the hands of England.
"It was good that there was bounce and seam movement in the practice wicket because it gives us good practice for the next game, which we will be playing in Mohali," he told a press conference.
"The practice wicket was little uneven but I don't think that will be the case with the match wicket. It has been rolled well, so the wicket will bind well and there will be good bounce. A bouncy wicket will be good for our game in Mohali."
But, repeatedly asked about the wicket, Jadeja confessed the hosts could well bat second if Dhoni won the toss, to get an idea how the wicket behaved. The other factor, which he did not mention, was dew that settled on the ground on Thursday evening. Although the match starts at noon and is scheduled to finish at 7.40pm, the team fielding second could face some problem with gripping the ball and footing on the outfield.
Jadeja is confident he can be more consistent with the bat and ball. "Earlier, I used to play wrong shots and throw away my wicket. Now when I get a chance, I make sure I bat till the end. And I stick to bowling stump to stump without experimenting much. I always think while bowling and have not changed that."
For England, every bit of discomfort to Dhoni will be good news as only he has been able to bind the second half of the innings. For India, extra life in the pitch could be a good opportunity to blood Cheteshwar Pujara, the batsman with the best technique and form combined in the squad.