Remember a shirtlessAndrew Flintoff racing round the Wankhede Stadium after cleaning up Javagal Srinath with 6 required off the penultimate ball of the game to help England square the series 3-3? Or Yuvraj Singh (237 runs, 6 wickets) demolishing the English with all-round abilities to help India beat England 5-1? Or a Terrorist-hit 2008/09 series where Yuvraj and Sehwag tore apart English bowling to win the series 5-0?
Yes the action is back again to the Indian Shores, England visit India for a bilateral series consisting of five One day Internationals and a one-off T20 termed as Payback series. The name Payback emerged from the fact that Dhoni’s men failed to record a single victory across three formats in the recently concluded English tour and this series is a perfect platform to show the World that the Indians can hit back strong and are indeed the World Champions.
The English are brimming with confidence on the back of consecutive ODI series victories against Sri Lanka (3-2) and India (3-0) at home.
The Indians on the other hand would be raring to go after a forgettable tour of England. It’s not that they played shoddily; it was just that their luck ran out. They were hit with crucial injuries at regular intervals coupled with the uncertain English weather, which did not allow a single complete 50 over match!
This time around the Indian team is devoid of services of stalwarts like Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, missing out due to injuries. But with a young team consisting of players like Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina,Rahul Sharma, R Ashwin, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, amazing talent will be on display and it will be a great chance for them to make a name for themselves in the international arena.
Spin vs Technique: The series will be decided on how well the batsmen tackle the spinners. India have the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, who has the ability to turn the ball sharply along with his special weapon, the “Carrom ball”, new boy, Rahul Sharma who can single-handedly demolish the opposition with his skidding leg-spinners as we have seen in the IPL.
Whilst with the likes of Jonathan Trott, who is technically outstanding and in top form, Ian Bell, good player of spin bowling, and the big man , Kevin Pietersen, who can murder an opposition attack single-handedly on any given day, England have a formidable batting line-up. Finisher, Eoin Morgan’s creativity will be missed, but with Jonny Bairstow in their ranks, they have enough ammunition in their arsenal.
The same logic applies vice versa, as the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and MS Dhoni will have to deal with Graeme Swann’s flighted off-spinners, “flying saucer balls” (a delivery that rotates around its horizontal axis and generally bounces straight on), Samit Patel’s left arm orthodox’s and new boy Scott Borthwick’s clever leg-spinners.
Staggering statistic: England have won just 4 out of last 19 matches played against India in India. (14 lost, 1 tied).
Players to watch out for:
1) Virat Kohli: Strengths: Cool Head, Ability to convert starts to big scores and deliver under pressure
2) Suresh Raina: Strengths: Big hitting ability along with capability to pace his innings to perfection
1) Praveen Kumar: strengths: ability to swing the ball both ways, put it in right areas and get early wickets.
2) Ravichandran Ashwin: strengths: ability to turn the ball sharply along with his special weapon, the “Carrom ball”
1) Jonathan Trott: Strengths: Amazing temperament and Technique
2) Ian Bell: Ability to adapt to situations easily and deliver consistently under pressure.
3) Jonny Bairstow (Impressed with 53-ball 104* in the second warm up game against Hyderabad Cricket Association XI): Strengths: Amazing power hitting capabilities
1) Graeme Swann: Strengths: flighted off-spinners, “flying saucer balls” and ability to produce wickets in crunch situations.
Prediction: Going by the fact that it’s a difficult job beating India at home coupled with poor English record on Indian shores, India 3 – 2 England
Is it going to be England’s continued dominance? Or is it going to be India’s payback? Well one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a cracker of a series and the cricket fans will be left without nails at the end of this extravaganza!
This post is by our Guest Sports Blogger Jigar Mehta.