Indians look to bounce back in shorter formats

Form in practice games bodes well

Indians look to bounce back in shorter formats

Rahul Dravid will be keen to make his mark when he makes his T20 debut against England in Manchester on Wednesday. Live Images

By the same token, the visitors should find themselves on an equal footing in the lone T20 international and the subsequent five-match one-day series, coming as they do on the back of three practice games which have all gone India’s way.

As much as Dhoni and company, the reigning World champions in the 50-over format, will have a point to prove in the ODIs beginning on Saturday at Chester-le-Street, current World T20 title holders England will be hard pressed to live up to their champions’ tag in the latest version of the game when the two sides meet here at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. The home of Lancashire County will also be hosting its first international under floodlights, the tickets for which have been sold out weeks ago. India have reason to believe their build-up has been ideal, though unexpectedly, their practice one-dayer against Kent too was reduced to a T20 affair before their clash against England’s domestic T20 champs Leicestershire on Monday.

The inaugural World T20 winners in South Africa in 2007 had a good opportunity to test their bench strength in the three practice games, including the latest replacements in paceman Varun Aaron and opener Ajinkya Rahane.

While Rahane sparkled in his brief stay, Aaron was erratic the tie against Leicestershire. The Jharkhandi, touted to be among the fastest in the country, was taken apart in his three overs, instantly ruining his faint chances of making the cut for Old Trafford. Praveen Kumar should be an automatic choice and based on his performances in the two T20s, R Vinay Kumar should get the nod ahead of RP Singh with Munaf Patel completing the pace battery.

It remains to be seen if off-spinning all-rounder R Ashwin will have the company of leggie Amit Mishra, who proved effective against Leicester. With Gautam Gambhir ruled out, Rahane in all likelihood will make his international debut to form the opening combination with an in-form Parthiv Patel. With Sachin Tendulkar sticking to his avowed policy of not playing international T20s, Rahul Dravid too is all set to make his T20 debut for the country.

All through the Test series, Indian batsmen had problems with the moving ball and it will be a big test for the young guns unaccustomed to such high quality bowling led by England T20 skipper Stuart Broad, with Tim Bersnan and Steve Finn giving him company.

Unlike the surfaces provided for Tests, the pitch here is shorn of grass but England bowlers haven’t always relied on help from it. It’s the swerve in the air that the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and the opening duo will have to handle, especially if India were to bat first. With the temperatures dipping gradually, the dew factor too could come into play.

Much like India, England too wear a largely new look compared to the side that did Test duty. In Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and Nottinghamshire opener Alex Hales, the hosts have three debutants along with the experience of Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara and stumper Craig Kieswetter. England might be brimming with confidence after their triumph in Tests, but they could find India a totally different proposition in the shortened version.

Teams (from): England: Stuart Broad (capt), Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann.

India: MS Dhoni (capt), Parthiv Patel, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Munaf Patel, Amit Mishra, RP Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Varun Aaron,

Umpires: Rob Bailey and Richard Illingworth. Third umpire: Nigel Llong (all England). Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).

Hours of play (IST): 2230 hours to end of play.

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