India look to whitewash England

With series already in their pocket, Dhoni may test his bench strength

India look to whitewash England

Series already in their pocket, a rampaging India would look to keep the foot on the pedal and press for a clean sweep when they take on England in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer here on Friday. 

In a remarkable turnaround following their humiliation in the Test series, India have called the shots in the ODI series, in which England have struggled to match the visitors be it batting, bowling or fielding.

After the first game was washed out, world champions India have asserted their supremacy in the ODI format by taking 3-0 lead to pocket the five-match series, which is their first in England since 2002, if the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy is neglected on account of a multi-team tournament.

In fact that 2002 win was a tri-series win as well with Sri Lanka as third participants. You have to go back all the way to 1990 for a bilateral ODI series win by India in England, when they took the Texaco Trophy 2-0. The common thread between that series win and the current one is Ravi Shastri. He was still playing for India in 1990 while this time around he has been involved as the director of cricket.

Both Shastri and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will look to end this series on a winning note. And they should be successful in their bid because England haven’t really put up a worthy challenge in any of the matches. So much so that the hosts’ 2015 ODI World Cup plans lie in tatters.

To make matters worse, their captain Alastair Cook doesn’t want to accept that selection or strategy is at fault in this defeat. This claim is despite the fact that they have been very reluctant to play both Moeen Ali and James Tredwell together in the same eleven. 

That Cook believes his strategy is not wrong either might be key to what is going wrong with the English ODI prospects at this moment. Their newbie opener Alex Hales has been found out already against the in-swinging delivery. Their middle order is in a shambles despite Ian Bell moving down to number three and he is unavailable for this last game due to a toe injury. Gary Ballance has done well in Test cricket but doubts persist over his ability to perform in limited-overs cricket.

In effect, this has meant easy-going for the Indian bowlers. Time and again, Dhoni has stressed that his bowlers – especially medium-pacers – need to get better in the death overs when the opposition has wickets in hand. Neither have the wickets been very placid, perhaps barring Edgbaston, and with some purchase in them for the spin bowlers, they have done quite well. 

The batting line-up had suffered in South Africa prior to that and they too have regained much of their confidence, again thanks to England’s inadequacies. If there is one big positive to come out of this series for the line-up, then it is in the newfound opening pairing of Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan. Dhoni had hinted that going ahead it could mean that Rohit Sharma – when he returns – will possibly bat at number four. 

This ‘dead-rubber’ also affords a chance to rest Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami and presenting Umesh Yadav and Karn Sharma a much-wanted go at the opposition. 

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