India's last chance to pull off victory

India's last chance to pull off victory

Cricket Final one-dayer

India's last chance to pull off victory

all to play for: Having tasted defeat right through a summer that has been disappointing, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be keen for a consolation victory on Friday. live imagesRahul Dravid’s final one-day international appearance will also be India’s last chance to register a win against England on this tour.

Denied an international victory for over two months, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company will be keen to finish the English sojourn on a winning note at Sofia Gardens on Friday. That will hardly serve as consolation for the battered Indians, but a positive result will be an ideal swansong for one of India’s greatest batting icons, retiring from the shorter version after this series.

If India fail to manage victory, it will be a worse drubbing than in Australia in 1999-2000. The Sachin Tendulkar-led side had eked out a solitary win against Pakistan in the tri-series following a 3-0 rout in Tests. Dhoni’s young guns will be desperate not to fare any worse than the hammering Down Under.

India, with some amount of justification, can feel undone by the vagaries of the weather in the five-match one-day series. The World champions’ best chance was in Chester-le-Street when they had England two down early whilst chasing 274, but heavy showers robbed them of their pie. In the fourth gamee at Lord’s, frequent rain interventions forced the Indians to settle for a tie when they appeared like nailing the match at various stages. With the series lost before it’s over, this game is another opportunity for the youngsters to keep themselves in the reckoning.

With so many injuries to first-choice players, the one-day leg has served as a chance for India to test their bench strength. The likes of Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and an under-scanner Suresh Raina have their harm no cause by grabbing the opportunities that have come their way. After the manner of defeat in the Tests and with so many senior players out, England were expected to run over a depleted India, but the visitors have caught the high-flying home team by surprise with a spirited fight, especially with the bat.

“Some of the young guys have come here without any baggage and they are really expressing themselves well. Fresh minds and a different format has helped India fight on an even keel,” noted England off-spinner Graeme Swann while acknowledging India’s fightback.

Dhoni has been in good touch while Raina has been nothing short of brilliant after a horrible run in the Tests. Rahane and Parthiv have been impressive at the top of the order, though on pitches with a little bit for the bowlers, the duo hasn’t looked as convincing. Jadeja is another player who has made the most of his recall, winning the man of the match for his all-round show in his comeback match at The Oval. The young legs have also ensured that fielding is of world class.

Off-spinner Ashwin has been India’s most potent bowler in the last two matches, but the bowlers as a unit have remained average, especially in mandatory Power Play and the death overs.

With RP Singh striking vital blows, they did manage to restrict England to a fairly low score but lost the plot towards the end, helping the English claw their way back into contention. India will have to tighten up their bowling in order to cut out all escape routes for Alastair Cook’s men, who will be keen to stay unbeaten in the whole series.
There aren’t any ‘We’ll do it for Dravid’ rants a la ‘We’ll do it for Tendulkar’ during the World Cup, but there’s a quiet determination to ensure that one of the best servants of the game leaves the one-day arena on a high.

Teams (from):

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Craig Kieswetter, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Ben Stokes, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn.

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, RP Singh, S Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Mishra, Varun Aaron.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove (West Indies) and Nigel Llong (England). Third umpire: Marais Erasmus (South Africa). Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).