Indians eye clean sweep

Cricket Third ODI: Having lost the series, England will look to salvage some pride

Indians eye clean sweep

With the series sealed after two exhilarating victories, a high-flying India would be looking to iron out a few chinks in their armour as they take on a wounded England in the third and concluding match of the one-day international series here on Sunday

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Normally, a dead rubber wouldn’t invoke the same passion and excitement as a decider but considering India would be hosting England in a three-match T20I series from the Republic Day onwards, the game at Eden Gardens on Sunday bears significance for some guys, especially opener K L Rahul.

The talented Karnataka batsman, who has emerged as the first choice opener across all formats, has had a dull two matches despite playing on absolute belter of tracks. In the opening game at Pune he was castled for a meagre eight, while in the second match at Cuttack he departed for just five.

Although he’s a confirmed starter (barring an injury) as the other two openers in the squad — Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane — have not been picked for the ensuing T20I encounters, Rahul would want to be back amongst runs considering the immense competition for slots in the Indian team. In both the games, he got out to poor shots and the disappointment was quite evident in Cuttack in the way he trudged off knowing a great chance had gone abegging.

Dhawan, if given another opportunity, would be desperate to prove a point following his twin failures as well. The left-hander averaged 57.40 from five ODIs last year but averaged just 26 in Test matches and it seems like his lack of form from whites has rubbed onto coloured clothing as well.

Test vice-captain Rahane, seemingly out of favour for limited overs, will be hoping he gets a match to make a case that his game has evolved to suit the needs of various formats.

It would be interesting to see if the team management decides to give Manish Pandey a go. The 27-year-old, who announced his arrival in the national team with a match-winning century against Australia exactly a year ago, had a poor series against New Zealand (Avg 19.00 from five games) last October and subsequently has been benched. Considering he’s part of the T20I team and Kedar Jadhav isn’t, it would be good to give him some valuable match practice although it would be extremely hard on the latter.

England, who could have been 2-0 up in a series completely dominated by batsmen, have only themselves to blame. In both the games they had India under the mat but allowed them to stage remarkable comebacks.

Still searching for their maiden international win on the tour, things won't be any easy for them at a venue that’s given them more pain than joy. They’ve lost all the three ODIs, including the 1987 World Cup final to Australia.

Against India, they’ve not won in two attempts. Add the heart-breaking 2016 World T20 final defeat to the West Indies to that list and they’ll be dreading playing here. However, they’ve got a young and dynamic squad and staging a turnaround will give them plenty of confidence for the T20Is.

Unlike the opening two matches, the pitch shouldn't be a complete run-fest. The surface was relaid just before the domestic season started last year and from the matches it has staged so far, the bowlers have got due for their efforts. The pitch also promises to hold generous bounce and the bigger boundaries mean it won't rain sixes and fours as has been the trend. Dew is expected to be a big factor though.

Fact file

Matches at Eden Gardens (India only): Matches: 19; Won: 11; Lost: 7; No Result: 1.

Head to head: Matches: 2; India won: 2; England won: 0.



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