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Sunday, November 16, 2008

England have a long way to compete well against the Indians

Though it is early days, the first ODI showed a vast difference between the skills of India and England, especially while competing on pitches that do not offer any assistance to the bowlers. The batsmen did not get any chance to settle down and plan for a bigger innings - purely because of the score that they were against.

The English team arrived after being routed in the Stanford Super Match by a long margin. The Stanford match showed how much money played an important part of the English game - even though their salaries must be one of the highest in international teams. Once they lost the match, they seem to have lost their motivation. This series is one that has to be played for national pride - which is what all countries do continuously. The English must realize the cause and remember to play their top game.

Kevin Pietersen has to do all the talking within the dressing room to lift his team's morale after their crushing defeat in the first ODI. He also has to plan his tactics better - there was no proof that any strategy was being thought, to arrest the flow of runs from the Indians. The bowlers regularly drifted on the pads and gave the Indian batsmen lots of freebies. There was no change of pace or length - which ensured that the Indians could go through their shots without any hesitation. Even though Pietersen lead the way in trying his best to scale the mountain of runs, the others just failed to take the opportunities on offer.

For the Indians, complacency seems to be their greatest risk, rather than any specific individual from the English team. Each batsman, except Yousuf Pathan, scored heavily - mostly at a run a ball, the opening bowlers picked up wickets and the fielders scored direct hits when it mattered. The confidence from the previous series against Australia seems to have rubbed off on this side (even though only five members from that squad remain). The Indians will also like to plan their team in such a way that the test bowlers get enough rest before the test series start. Amit Mishra must be replaced by Piyush Chawla in the ODI series so that he can strike better later. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma must play alternate matches so that the bench can be tested severely. MS Dhoni is another key player, whose energies must be conserved for the forthcoming season.

If the English have to avoid another series washout like their previous series, their bowling, batting, fielding and captaincy has to improve big-time, once the Stanford Series is wiped off their memories.
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