India keen to script a different chapter

India keen to script a different chapter

New-look England eager to maintain momentum

India keen to script a different chapter

The wounds that England cut open in the Test series are not easily curable. And before that gashes are healed, India will have to appear in two T20s, the first of which will be played in the Sahara Stadium here on Thursday.

While England named a completely new-look and young side for the T20s, with only Michael Lumb and James Tredwell past 30, India have made only cosmetic changes to the squad that did duty in the Tests.

Completely outplayed in the Test series, Indians will be much relieved knowing that the ultra-abridged version offers them a level-playing field. India have the likes of skipper M S Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, pure match-winners in the limited over versions.

On paper, the Indian side carries massive firepower and a definite edge over a young England side that will be captained by Eoin Morgan in the absence of injured regular skipper Stuart Broad. But wasn’t there a similar line of thought prior to the Test series? In the end, India were beaten in their own game, and the home side will do well not to underestimate this bunch of Englishmen -- relatively inexperienced but high on talent.

The victory of the Test side might have filled them with the desire to emulate their seniors and also the confidence that India can once again be bearded in their own den. Having said that, India will have to believe in their abilities without being overconfident. T20 is also a format in which India haven’t done well in recent times despite emerging champions in the first World T20 Championship five years back in South Africa.

However, India have a crumb of comfort to bank on as they stood on the right side of the result when these two sides met the last time in the World T20 in Sri Lanka. India had registered a huge 90-run win in that match as their spinners led by Harbhajan Singh spun a web around the hapless Englishmen.

The Indians though will be aware of the fact that history holds little significance in a format like T20. But the recent form of some of the T20 players have been encouraging. Ajinkya Rahane, who should be opening the innings with Gautam Gambhir, and Rohit Sharma have been in good touch for Mumbai, while Suresh Raina too has produced a couple of good knocks for Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy.

Quite similar is the case with the bowlers. Pacers Parwinder Awana and Abhimanyu Mithun, who replaced an injured state-mate R Vinay Kumar in the side, and Bhuvaneswar Kumar have been among wickets in the domestic circuit. Mithun took four for 60 for Karnataka helping them secure the first innings lead and vital three points against Vidarbha in Mysore, and he will be raring to go on his return to the Indian squad.

More than their individual form, the inclusion of players such as Raina, Rohit, Mithun and Ambati Rayudu ensures improvement in the quality of fielding, and that will come as a big relief for Dhoni. From a personal perspective as well, Dhoni will be looking at T20s with eagerness.

His defensive captaincy has come under scrutiny in the Test series, but the Jharkhand man is a fine captain in the shorter versions, and he’ll be keen to come up with a good effort as captain and batsman. Though, it will not be sufficient to mask his failings in the traditional format, it will offer him a ground to stand, at least for now.

So, the first T20 international in this stadium, that has the capacity to hold 43,000 spectators, will be an interesting battle between two sides with a lot to gain.
DH News Service

Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Parvinder Awana.

England: Eoin Morgan (capt), James Harris, Jonny Bairstow, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Butler, Jade Dernbach, Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Samit Patel, Joe Root, James Tredwell and Luke Wright.

Umpires: C Shamsuddin, Sudhur Asnani; Third Umpire: Vineet Kulkarni; Match Referee: Jeff Crowe.