England has a very good chance to redeem some of its abysmal record in one-day matches in India. In 2008 they had lost 5 of the 7 games that were to be played and it was the attacks in Mumbai that led to the cancellation of the last two games. England won millions of friends when under Kevin Pietersen they came back a few weeks later to play the Test series.
Pietersen lost his captaincy soon thereafter and has since then had a less than a cosy relationship with the England cricket authorities and the media. He still is a destructive batsman and a game changer of the highest order in all forms of the game and so England cannot do without him.
England's losses in the warm up matches mean very little. Very few overseas teams take such matches too seriously. It is just an opportunity to limber and loosen up and try and get used to the time difference. The intensity that will be there in an international game is not always there, though of course the fringe players in the team will be looking to impress the selectors with a timely performance.
Ian Bell’s promotion to the opening spot is an inspired move and he is relishing the chance to settle down and bat for more overs than he would get if he was batting down the order. What he and Alastair Cook do is to get runs with deft placements and shots timed sweetly rather than the power hitting that is expected in this form of the game.
That bit is left to the likes of Pietersen and Morgan who can turn the game around in a matter of deliveries. Strangely, England have no place for Matt Prior in the team for he is a superb bat and just the kind of hammer that England need in the slog overs.
The Rajkot pitch has invariably been batting friendly and in 2008 Yuvraj got a terrific hundred but at the other stadium. What the new stadium holds will only be known once the game starts. India has a few problems to solve with its batsmen not being in prime form. That has added more pressure on its inexperienced bowlers.
What line-up India goes in with will also be interesting. Pujara is in tremendous form and it’s his home ground so if he plays, it means that Rahane will have to miss out. India had Dhoni batting at number 6 and played five bowlers in the last match against Pakistan.
With Jadeja and Ashwin both being capable batsmen, it gave a balance to the team. What swung the game in India’s favour was its outstanding fielding and if India can maintain that standard then they have a good chance of dominating England like they did in 2008 and 2011.
Professional Management Group