Rival teams worry about form of batsmen

Published: Sunday, April 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Margao:Both India and England look to their batsmen to strike form as they take on each other in the third One-dayer of the seven-match series on a virgin wicket at the Nehru stadium here tomorrow.

Hosts India are sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead, but are not losing sight of the fact that in both the matches, it was the lower middle order and the bowlers, who had bailed them out and it is time for their frontline batsmen to fire now.

India would also be trying to reverse their fortunes on this ground where they have played three matches so far and lost all three of them, two to Sri Lanka and one to Australia.

The form of opener Virender Sehwag continues to give headaches to the Indian team management and Sehwag seemed to hang on in the team only on the assumption that when he fires he can blow the opposition away.

In this series so far, it seems that the English bowlers have sorted out the free-scoring batsman and now the onus lies on Sehwag to strike back. The Delhi batsman was looking like he was getting in prime form in the second One-dayer before Ian Blackwell had him bowled behind his legs.

Skipper Rahul Dravid himself is not among the runs in the One-dayers and with Yuvraj Singh and Mohd Kaif not firing on all the cylinders, the Indian late middle order has stood exposed in the first two matches and they needed someone like greenhorn Suresh Raina to bail them out in the second match with a priceless unbeaten 81.

The Indian bowlers have been making it up where the batsmen have been lacking, with ace off spinner Harbhajan Singh finding his form and rhythm. Mumbai offie Ramesh Powar also had a good match last time a round and with the way the pitches were behaving, India are likely to go in with two spinners along with seamers Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth, who have given the team early breakthrough for the spinners to then spin their web.

The English team on the other and hand except for Kevin Pietersen none of the other batsmen looked like staying in the middle for long and though Andrew Strauss came back into form with a fine 61 in the second match his tendency to play outside the off stump early also gives the bowlers a chance.

England might also bring in Matthew Hoggard in place of one of the quicks and think of playing another spinner in Gareth Batty alongwith Ian Blackwell on these pitches.

The wicket here might also see both the teams go in for two spinners in their side as a virgin square is in the offing for the One-dayer.

The old square has been re-laid and groundsmen have been working on the wicket for the last two months.

Looking at the wicket it appears like it is on the slower side with cracks already visible on the pitch. It is once again expected to be a dry wicket and since no match has been played on the square so far, the team winning the toss should be looking to bat first here. Meanwhile, the GCA has made elaborate security arrangements for smooth conduct of the first ODI being held here since the April 6, 2001 encounter between India and Australia which was marred by the fake ticket scam.

Several genuine ticket holders could not enter the stadium and were lathi-charged by the police.

The association has taken all necessary precautions to prevent a repeat of the 2001 like incident.

All entry points will be barricaded and CISF personnel will be posted to scan the tickets before the holders can enter the stadium, according to GCA Secretary Chetan Desai.

Teams (From):

India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid (c), Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, M S Dhoni (w-k), Irfan Pathan, Venugopal Rao, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Rudra Pratap Singh.

England: Andrew Flintoff (c), Kabir Ali, James Anderson, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell, Ian Blackwell, Paul Collingwood, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones (w-k), Sajid Mahmood, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss.

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