Yuvraj set for key role in England one-dayers

Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Yuvraj Singh may not have featured during India's recent 1-0 Test series win against England but the all-rounder is set for a key role when his side take on their hosts in a seven-match one-day international campaign starting with Tuesday's day/night encounter at Hampshire's Rose Bowl ground.

India endured an even worse World Cup than England and fell at the first hurdle after group defeats against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

But during their 2-1 series win over South Africa in Belfast last month there were signs India were starting to find their one-day form.

Vital to that success at Stormont, India's first one-day series triumph outside the sub-continent since 2002 when they beat England in a final at Lord's, was Yuvraj's form.

The 25-year-old, who also bowls left-arm spin, made a dashing 61 not out in the deciding match against South Africa having previously scored an unbeaten 49 as India came from behind to level the series at 1-1.

"He's been a fantastic finisher for us," said India captain Rahul Dravid of Yuvraj. "He's got the power, he's got the skill and he's matching that power and skill with temperament, mental strength and brains.

"That's a deadly combination. He is up there among the best one-day players in the world, without a doubt."

India's batsmen had barely seven overs at the crease before their final warm-up match, against the England Lions, was washed out on Saturday, after the 'A side had given the tourists' attack something to think about in making 296.

But wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, captain in that warm-up match as he prepares to lead India in next month's inaugural World Twenty20, was confident the team could take their Test form into the one-day arena.

"I don't think it is going to be too difficult for us to adjust from playing Test matches to one-day cricket," Dhoni said.

England, beaten 2-1 at home by the West Indies in a one-day series last month, did at least make it into the second round of the World Cup.

But they never looked like making the semi-finals despite going into the tournament following a suprise one-day success over Australia on the world champions home turf.

In the absence of opener Marcus Trescothick, still unavailable because of a stress-related illness, England have yet to find a batsman who can make the most of the inital 10-over powerplay period.

Meanwhile the decision of new one-day captain Paul Collingwood to move from backward point, a vital position in limited overs cricket, so he could better assess the game, meant England's best fielder was not in his ideal place.

England welcome back pace-bowling all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for his first taste of international action this season following a third operation on his troublesome left ankle.

But there is no guarantee that Flintoff, whose drink-fuelled pedalo escapade his World Cup, will be a miracle cure for England's one-day ills.

Flintoff, when fit, remains England's most economical bowler in both Test and one-day cricket. But his batting form at international level has been in a slump for nearly two years.

However, Flintoff, 29, believes he is close to firing on all cylinders.

"The bowling takes care of itself," said Flintoff, yet to make a notable score this season in a couple of championship appearances for Lancashire.

"As for the batting, a few more runs or a big score would have been nice but I'm desperately close... I think I'm one score away."


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