India keen to keep winning run going

England hope to end series on victorious note

India keen to keep winning run going

In the wake of their recent on-field travails, the one-day series victory, which was achieved with a win at Mohali a few days back, against England couldn’t have come at a better time for India.

But now, they would like to sign off the series with another crunchy performance in the final one-dayer here on Sunday, also maintaining their mini winning streak. India have come back well after the setback at Rajkot to win consecutive matches at Kochi, Ranchi and Mohali, and they would like to make the maiden one-day international at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association stadium a memorable one.

The scenic venue has charmed one and all and there would be no dearth of supporters in the 19,500-capacity stadium which is expected to attract a full house on Sunday. But this is not to say that India don’t have any issues to address. The opening pair has been a problem throughout this series with the abysmal form of Gautam Gambhir a constant worry.

Even though the Delhi opener rustled up a half century in the opening match at Rajkot, the fact remains that he has struggled with the bat in the subsequent matches. In this series, Gambhir has aggregated 103 runs at an average of 25.75. He batted long at the nets on Saturday in a jersey bearing the name of Cheteshwar Pujara. Perhaps, the Saurashtra man’s rich form would rub on Gambhir!

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had rested Gambhir’s fellow opener Ajinkya Rahane following his poor outings at Kochi and Ranchi, and brought in Rohit Sharma, who opened the innings for only the fourth time in his career at Mohali. Rohit answered the call with a fluent fifty, but India’s problems at the top remain unresolved with Gambhir once again falling cheaply. The dead rubber will provide an opportunity for Dhoni to further experiment with the batting order.

The middle-order has been boosted by the return to form of Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina has executed the role of a finisher with consistency, his unbeaten 89 in Mohali earning India the series win. Coming to the bowling department, Indian bowlers have been quite effective in the series after the shellacking they received in Rajkot.

The new lot of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed has been impressive with their ability to swing the ball while Ishant Sharma seems to have come to grips with his new role in the side as a senior paceman in the absence of Zaheer Khan.

Ravindra Jadeja, who has emerged a key performer, has filled the spot of the fifth bowler with his left-arm spin and useful contributions with the bat down the order. Along with Ravichandran Ashwin, he has picked up important wickets in the middle-overs. However, India have to arrest the run flow in the last 10 overs.

The HPCA stadium pitch is expected to assist the pacers and the overnight dew could also be a factor. The officials have decided to start the match at 9.30 am instead of 9.00 am because of the cold conditions here.

The English side has struggled in the absence of experienced players. The top order has not performed up to the mark even though captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen came good in the last match. Debutant Joe Root has stood out with consistency with the bat down the order. As such, at the foothills of Himalayas, England would play for pride and India to remind themselves that winning is a good habit.

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