India target turnaround

Practice game against Sussex to kick off limited-overs leg of tour

India target turnaround

Having surrendered their number one Test ranking to England without a whimper, the reigning World champions will be under immense pressure to maintain their status among the top ODI sides in the world.

The visitors will again be without the services of four key players who were an integral part of the World Cup-winning side in the sub-continent four and a half months ago.
Yuvraj Singh, the Player of the World Cup, opener Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh are out tending to a variety of injuries picked up or aggravated during the Test series. India did get the better of the West Indies despite fielding a second-string squad under Suresh Raina but, on the evidence of England’s current form, it’s not difficult to imagine Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company finding it tough even with a full-strength side.

With their morale possibly at its lowest level after the drubbing in the longer version, it might actually work to India’s advantage that they will be have six reinforcements for the second leg of their tour.

Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin and R Vinay Kumar have already joined the side while the replacements for Sehwag and Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Varun Aaron respectively, are still awaited. The Test series wasn’t just taxing on the Indian players’ bodies but on their minds as well, given how it panned out over a period of a month. The fact that these players are fresh both physically and mentally and aren’t directly affected by the series of setbacks on tour will provide the much-needed energy and strength to the team on the field.
India may field as many fresh arrivals as possible in Thursday’s game to get them used to the conditions, while also utilising the time to get some of their main players to recover further from various ailments.

Gautam Gambhir, absent from optional practice on Wednesday, is doubtful for Thursday’s encounter, so Parthiv might get to open with Sachin Tendulkar. Rahul Dravid, playing his last set of one-day internationals, may be rested while the likes of Kohli and Rohit, certain to feature in the ODIs, will get their first look-in against a side that is fighting to make it to the semifinals of the domestic Pro40 competition.

In the bowling department, Praveen Kumar showed encouraging signs during practice after missing the final Test at The Oval due to a strain in his left ankle, though India might opt to give the bowler a further break. Munaf Patel, RP Singh and Karnataka paceman Vinay could be pressed into service while offie Ashwin will have to play the lead spinner’s role.

Led by England all-rounder Michael Yardy, Sussex have been one of the top sides in the ongoing season, though back-to-back defeats to Yorkshire and Kent have put their last-four chances in jeopardy.

They have been well-served by openers Chris Nash and Ed Joyce, who are also the top two scorers for their side with 537 and 482 runs respectively, though Joyce will be unavailable as he will be playing for Ireland in a one-off one-day international against England on Thursday.

Along with Chris Liddle, Yardy, who bowls left-arm spin, has been their top-wicket taker with 16 scalps while another all-rounder Luke Wright hasn’t been in action much.
It’s unlikely that any of the overseas players will play on the morrow but even so, Sussex have the personnel capable of giving a good work-out to the Indians.

Teams (from):
Sussex: Michael Yardy (capt), Chris Nash, Joe Gatting, Ben Brown, William Adkin, Luke Wright, James Anyon, Will Beer, Chris Liddle, Monty Panesar, Lewis Hatchett, Andy Hodd, Ollie Rayner, Luke Wells, Kirk Werners.

Indians: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel.

Hours of play (IST): 1445-1815 hours and 1900 hours to close of play.

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