Butter-fingered India take on injured England

Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2007, 0:00 [IST]
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London: India are left with a tough balancing act between becoming a more athletic one-day side and utilising the vast talents of their ageing superstars.
For arguably the most fanatical cricket nation in the world, India have struggled to keep up with the changes in limited overs cricket - and particularly the increased athleticism in the modern game.

Teams like Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and even England's improving side have put an emphasis on being more energetic in the field to put pressure on the opposition.

But after another disjointed display during Sunday's 38-run victory at Headingley Carnegie, which left the NatWest Series evenly poised with England leading 3-2 with two to play, captain Rahul Dravid admitted they have a problem in balancing their side.

Having dropped three catches, including Ian Bell on nought before he went on to score 44, Dravid conceded: "We're not holding our catches and we're not fielding well, it's as simple as that.

"The reasons for that could be many but the simple fact is we're not fielding well.

"We've got some areas of concern as well because a lot of our better cricketers are not necessarily our best fielders as well - that's something we may have to learn to adjust to and do the best we can.

"We can do better than we've done in the last game, there's no doubt about that. We're never going to be brilliant overnight, but we should definitely do a lot better than we've done in this game."

Sachin Tendulkar, still one of the finest batsmen in the world as he underlined with his magical 71 off 59 balls at Headingley, underlined that point by dropping Matt Prior on one at slip which allowed him to score 46 and forge a 90-run stand with Bell.

Sourav Ganguly is another player who is well worth his place in the side as a batsman and part-time seamer - as he illustrated in Leeds with 59 and claiming two for 26 to win the man-of-the-match award - but is a poor athlete in the field.

For all their limitations in the field, however, Dravid admitted their opening partnership of 116 in nearly 20 overs set the stage to allow India to hit a competitive 324 for six after being put in to bat.

"Both of them timed the ball beautifully and looked in good touch," enthused Dravid.

"They complimented each other well and played an equal number of balls during that partnership.

"It's great when your top two players get off to a good start because it gets you off to a good base from which you know you can capitalise on."

India move to London for the final two matches in the series with a dilemma over whether to stick with the same line-up with an extra batsman in Gautam Gambhir, who hit a useful 51, or go for the extra seamer in left-armer Rudra Pratap Singh.

Singh may come more into the reckoning for Wednesday's match at the Brit Oval, which is traditionally a good batting wicket, to give them extra firepower in their attack.

Injury woes hosts: he injuries to all-rounders Flintoff' left ankle will be reassessed by England's medical team tomorrow. However Bopara, who injured his right thumb while attempting to catch in his own bowling, is ruled out of the remaining games plus the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup.

Paceman Tremlett and all-rounder Mascarenhas will miss Wednesday's game with a foot injury but could be fit for Lord's.

Seamer Ryan Sidebottom has also been cleared to rejoin the squad after recovering from his side strain.

ThatsCricket (with inputs from Agencies)

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