Posted by: nestaquin | November 14, 2008

India v England ODI Series: England Preview

pensive pietersenThe last time England played India in a ODI series the English won the trophy in a canter after conquering the tourists in the final match at Lord’s by 7 wickets. Undoubtedly, Kevin Pietersen and his men will be keen to retain the trophy and in doing so become the first English ODI squad to win a series in India since David Gower’s team of 1984/85.  A quarter century without success should be motivation enough but as The Tooting Trumpet explains below, things are not always as simple or as they seem when an English cricket team is involved.

The role of the preview writer is to sum up the current state of the squad, then look ahead to how the series might pan out. As ever, the Englishman finds this task more complex than it ought to be.

On the one hand, England are third in the ICC rankings, just behind South Africa, a team England saw off 4-0 in their last ODI series. With the inspirational choice of KP as captain in all forms of the game, and the even more inspirational sight of a fit and happy Andrew Flintoff biffing away alongside him, England at times annihilated a very decent, if completely drained, South African XI and were just a washed out ODI short of nestling in behind Australia as the second best ODI team in the world! (It’s all right Sri Lankan, Indian and South African readers – nobody in England believes it).

On the other hand, England have flown into India direct from Antigua, where many of the players seemed to forget how to play cricket at all, a feat they repeated just a few days ago.

So it’s not so much a question of, “Will the real England please stand up?” as “What is the real England?”

England’s batting strengths lie in their big players. KP, once set, is the most destructive middle order batsman in world cricket, averaging nearly 50 in ODIs at a strike rate of nearly 90. Flintoff also scores at nearly 90 with a healthy average for a player who tends to come in down the order. Either of these two can take the game away from any side in 90 minutes of mayhem.

Early on in their innings, India will seek to target KP’s manic running between the wickets and poor shot selection: for Flintoff they will use the flighted or swinging ball to demand that he move those heavy feet.

Elsewhere in the batting, England look vulnerable: Prior and Bell play by numbers at the top of the order; Shah is always playing for his place; Colly has lost the joie-de-vivre so evident in recent ODI series in New Zealand and Australia.

The rest of the squad tend to have moments with the bat, rather than deliver consistently (though Indian viewers may be surprised at just how good a batsman Stuart Broad has become).

With the ball, Flintoff again leads the way – he will hope to be supported by the bounce of Harmison and Broad, the swing of Anderson and Sidebottom and the cunning of Swann and Patel, but, given the English bowlers’ inconsistency, KP may end up bowling with Flintoff as well as batting with him.

The Trumpet is going to stick his neck out and predict that Swann and Patel will reveal themselves to be rather cannier bowlers than pundits believe and do well in sub-continental conditions.

The forecast? 4-3 to India.

Before the Toss: Rajesh Kannan’s excellent preview of India’s ODI squad.

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Responses

  1. TTT,

    I think the order of the 4-3 will have a significant bearing on the Test series.. If India win the first 4 without breaking a sweat and England win the last 3, England will take some momentum into the tests but I dont think India will be too bothered.

    If the games alternate with the series going to the wire, I think England will take more positives into the first Test than India does, especially when India is expected to win the series on a canter.

    If England win the first 3 and India come back to win the last 4, England may as well not show up for the Test series..

    Personally, I think that form will play a big role in the ODI series and fortunately for India, the England batting line up is nowhere close to mid season form.

    Cheers,

  2. Homer – that’s a good point. Momentum counts in cricket and England will look to improve through the series as they grow into the tour.

  3. Toots, excellent as always.

    I am not sure I totally agree with
    “for Flintoff they will use the flighted or swinging ball to demand that he move those heavy feet”

    The big man going by his fantastic slip fielding is surprisingly light on his feet. When on song, he can biff the seamers as well as the spinners. His counterattack against Warne in the second test of THAT ashes comes to mind.

  4. Dement – I can promise you that having watched him live and on TV from his teenager years, early on, the feet won’t go to the ball. Later on, he’s much better. His slip catching is the product of a fantastic eye and huge hands.

  5. Toots, I do agree with the plan of attack for Flintoff. I am just not conviced that he has heavy feet.

    It will also be interesting to see how KP and MSD use their 5 over powerplays when batting and fielding.

    Along with your picks I will add Shah to come good in these conditions too.

  6. I hope Shah does come good, but he is placed under intolerable pressure too often.

  7. TTT, I hope Shah is picked, too. He has all the tools to succeed in india.
    Stuart Broad has come on well as a batsman – I for one wouldnt be surprised since I did catch snatches of the SA and NZ series. I just hope he doesn go the Irfan Pathan way of losing his bowling mojo.
    Despite the 387 today, I have high hopes for this England team – especially in the test series – a 2 test series is an ideal length for the underdog so I am backing England to snick it 1-0 or draw it 1-1 or even 0-0. Maybe 2-0 with some luck and help from dumbo batting by Sehwag – if Sehwag goes early India struggle to score fast. I would give the ODI series 4-3 or 5-2 to England.
    Rajesh Kannan, looks like even the new generation of Indian players got along fine with England today – so it is clearly the obnoxious Aussies who seem to bring the worst behaviour out of them – clearly, it is the Aussies to blame because SA, SL and now England seem to be getting along fine with Bhajji, Gambhir etc.

  8. raj – I’m not fooled by your forecasts avoiding the tempting of fate!


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