England conquered; ~~The wall~~ takes a break

Published: Friday, April 7, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Indian captain Rahul Dravid was rested for the next two One-dayers against England after his team clinched an unbeatable 4-0 lead in the seven-match series.

Chief selector Kiran More said vice-captain Virender Sehwag will lead the hosts in Guwahati on Sunday and in Jamshedpur next Wednesday before Dravid returns for the final match in Indore on April 15.

"With the series in the pocket, it is sensible to give the overworked captain a break," said More a day after India scored a four-wicket win in the fourth match in Kochi.

"Not often does a team get a chance to try out new players and experiment with tactics, so we must make full use of it.

"This is not being done to belittle our opponents, but it's a common sense approach as we build for next year's World Cup."

Upcoming fast bowler Vikram Rajvir Singh will replace Dravid for the next two games, More said.

Dravid has led from the front on England's current tour of India. His 309 runs from three Tests were the highest on either side and he has scored 150 runs in the four One-dayers so far.

More hopes the additional responsibility on Sehwag will help the aggressive opener return to form. Sehwag managed just 19 runs in five of his six Test innings and has scored only 74 runs in four One-dayers so far.

"Veeru is too good a batsman to fail for long," the chief selector said. "There are not many batsmen around like him who can single-handedly win matches."

The travelling British media, meanwhile, feared the worst was yet to come for Andrew Flintoff's tourists.

"The home side may be flattered by the 4-0 scoreline but, with Englands senior players tired and the next tier falling short, the margin of victory may yet become greater still," said the London Times.

The Guardian was equally pessimistic about England's chances in the last three games.

"England were close to bursting point last night after being outplayed by India for the fourth time in 10 days to surrender a series that, painfully, still has three games to go," the newspaper said.

"England probably have a dear wish right now: to jump on the next plane back to Heathrow. They have been out-thought and outclassed by a team who know their own backyard down to the last nook and cranny."

Dravid conceded the One-day series had not been easy for England after the tourists forced India to share the Tests 1-1.

"It's been difficult for England," he said. "But it's hard to have sympathy for anyone at international level. I've been on the receiving end a few times myself."

The win on Thursday was India's eighth in a row and the 16th in their last 20 One-day matches.

Dravid's men also surpassed a 21-year-old record set by Clive Lloyd's all-conquering West Indians in 1984-85 when they recorded their 15th consecutive win while chasing a target on Thursday.

The Daily Telegraph said the tourists had taken a hammering off the field as well.

"Bishen Bedi, the great Indian left-arm spinner, has come out with the claim that England's reserve strength is as poor as Bangladesh's," the newspaper said.

"We can only hope he will be proved wrong in the last three games."

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