Bristol: A relentless examination that lasted five Tests and ended with three successive defeats is over, but some humiliating stats still follow India to the shorter format. They go into the ODI series against England having failed to win their last seven matches outside Asia.
The bowling not firing in those games was not a huge concern; that is the norm for India. The batting getting blown away in South Africa and failing to close out games in New Zealand was. India’s batsmen regularly make up for the bowlers’ shortcomings in home conditions. Unfortunately for them, the 2015 World Cup won’t be played at home.
Starting from Bristol, India will want their batsmen to win a few games for them because after this series, it will be only a month to the World Cup by the time they play their next one outside Asia. Barring a couple of names in the top order, the core of the batting remains unchanged from the Tests. Which means personnel low on runs and down on confidence. The fresh arrivals – Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu – do not inspire much confidence as well.
The pair of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja has been a constant for India for a while now, whether at home or away. MS Dhoni’s lack of faith in his fast bowlers and over-rate concerns have contributed to that, but how often can the duo win you games in these conditions? That is another question for India to answer in the couple of series available to work out their World Cup combinations.
England’s recent one-day form hasn’t been exciting either. They went down to Australia both home and away, the latter a 1-4 rout. They did beat West Indies in Antigua but slipped against Sri Lanka at home. They fought in that series alright, coming back from 99 all out at Chester-le-Street to demolishing the visitors for 67, but their batsmen made few big scores, and will want to show greater urgency against India.
Like India, several members of England’s Test squad feature in the one-day side, and unlike India, they will bring with themselves baggage of the right kind. Agencies