India start ODI series as favourites

Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008, 16:09 [IST]
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Rajkot: Despite the loss of Ishant Sharma due to an ankle injury, India have enough ammunition to start as favourites against England as the first of the seven-match ODI series gets underway at Madhavrao Scindia stadium here tomorrow.

India who are on a high after beating the world champions Australia in the recently concluded Test series, will, however, have to guard against complecency setting in as England have some very good players who can turn the match on their day, specially in the one-day format where there is very less room of mistakes.

England like India have also injury worries when it comes to their pace bowlers with seam bowler Ryan Sidebottom having being ruled out of the first match due to an Achilles injury.

Indian despite not having Sachin Tendulkar in their ranks, with the great batsman asking for rest from the first three one-day internationals, have a formidable batting line up to take care of whatever the England bowlers through at them.

Gautam Gambhir returns to the team after sitting out of the last Test against Australia, due to suspension from the ICC for elbowing Shane Watson in the Delhi Test and he along with Virender Sehwag are expected to give India the explosive start needed. Both the batsmen are in good form and this is something the English would have to be wary of on the flat sub continent wickets.

Rajkot ODI: India hit by Ishant's injury

Yuvraj Singh, who was stripped of the vice-captain recently also has a point to prove and with players like Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli in the middle order, the batting looks settled. Even though Ishant has been ruled out the bowling also has a settled look about it with Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and R P Singh to be the pacers, while Harbhajan Singh is likely to be the lone spinner.

If India decide on playing two spinners then Pragyan Ojha will get a look in at the expense of either Munaf Patel or R P Singh, with the fifth bowlers duty likely to be shared between Sehwag, Yuvraj and Rohit.

England on the other hand have problems aplenty having already been thrashed by a Mumbai second XI in a warm up match with Stuart Broad also doubtful of being fit in time of the first one-dayer.

Broad picked up his knee problem during England's first warm-up match on Sunday where he bowled four overs. His knee swelled up but has responded to treatment and the England management will monitor him in the build-up to tommorow's opening ODI.

If Broad joins Sidebottom on the sidelines, it will leave England short of quick-bowling choices for the first ODI. Steve Harmison, James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff played in both warm-up matches, and there is a strong chance England will field two spinners, but it doesn't leave much room for any late injury or illness problems.

Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright both offer seam options, although neither bowled during the two warm-up matches.

It is the batting, however, which will need to take their game higher with their captain Kevin Pietersen neeing to lead the way. In Andrew Flintoff they have an all rounder who can turn the game on his own and he needs to fire if England want to take the lead in the series. England have some good players in Ian Bell and Owais Shah, but Pietersen will have to lead the way, while the others could bat around him.

The Rajkot wicket as usual is expected to be a batting beauty shorn of any grass, but there will be some help for the seamers in the morning with a 0900 hrs start.

owever, that would last only around 40 to 45 minutes and after that it will be hard work for the bowlers.

Bowling first could be an option here if the seamers can exploit the early moisture and with the white ball swinging much more than the red cherry, it will be a good ploy to bowl first as in the afternoon with the short boundaries chasing down any score would be more likely than not.

Teams: India (from): M S Dhoni (c), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murli Vijay, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel, R P Singh.

England (from): Kevin Pietersen (c), Tim Amborse, Alistair Cook, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Samit Patel, Steve Harmison, J Anderson, Luke Wright, Gramme Swann, Matt Prior, Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Board.

Umpires: Russell Tiffin (Australia), Suresh Shastri (India) Third Umpire: Ameesh Saheeba (India).


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