Match preview | England vs India 2014 – India ready to build on Lord's win | gocricket.com
 

India ready to build on Lord's win

26 Jul 2014, 1418 hrs IST,  ,  gocricket.com  
India ready to build on Lord's win
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MS Dhoni's men must be eyeing to take India to a 2-0 lead in the third Test starting at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday.
It rarely happens that outside the subcontinent India go into a Test leading 1-0. Two-nil is even rarer and that's what MS Dhoni's men must be eyeing when they play England in the third game of the five-Test series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Sunday.

In recent years the instance of India going up in a series outside the subcontinent has happened thrice. In 2007, Rahul Dravid's team beat England 1-0 thanks to its win in the second Test. Go back a year further, to when a Sreesanth-inspired Indian team beat South Africa in the first Test at Johannesburg; however, they ended up losing the series 2-1. On the tour of Australia in 2003-04, under Sourav Ganguly, India beat Australia in the second Test before losing the next and the series ended at 1-1 with a draw in the last game.

The Indian team must be very high on confidence against such a backdrop. Ravindra Jadeja losing 50 percent of his match fee over a nasty row with James Anderson has taken the gilt off the gingerbread a bit but it's unlikely the team will let itself get affected by the ICC's decision.

Despite the 95-run win at the hallowed Lord's on Monday, Dhoni faces a few challenges, mainly over team selection. First and foremost is whether Stuart Binny deserves one more chance. The Karnataka allrounder batted valiantly for 78 in the second innings of the first Test at Trent Bridge but gave a poor account of himself at Lord's with scores of 9 and 0. Adding to that the fact that Binny failed to take a wicket across both Tests jeopardises his place in the side. Binny cannot be in the team solely as a batsman and all signs are that his place will go to Rohit Sharma, who was given first use of batting practice on Friday and had an extended hit, whereas Binny did not even bat.

That, however, looks to be the only change to a winning XI. Despite talk of the Southampton track being dry, offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin is likely to sit out again in view of Jadeja's good show with bat and ball. Spin great Bishan Singh Bedi wants Ashwin in the team but Jadeja and Murali Vijay's effective part-time spin has put Ashwin out of the equation - at least for now - and considering Rohit has taken wickets at in limited-overs internationals it is all the more unlikely that Ashwin gets a look-in.

Shikhar Dhawan is short of runs on this tour and considering his Delhi team-mate Gautam Gambhir is waiting in the wings, this could be the left-handed opener's last chance in the series if he doesn't get it right at the Ageas Bowl.

England captain Alastair Cook, on the other hand, has a Pandora's box open in front of him. His form with the bat is turning into a nightmare - he hasn't scored a Test century since May 2013 against New Zealand at Leeds - and it's clearly affecting his batting. The time is running out for him with former players like Michael Vaughan, Shane Warne, Geoff Boycott, Nasir Hussain and Kevin Pietersen, the latest in the list, calling for his head. It will be interesting to see how he fares both as batsman and captain with the sword of Democles hanging over his head.

England will hand a debut cap to highly rated Lancashire wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, who scored a fine ODI century at Lord's against Sri Lanka this summer, so there will be plenty of focus on him as he performs two crucial duties: keeping wickets and trying to bolster a flagging middle order. Allrounder Ben Stokes' batting is a big concern after three successive Test ducks and his place could be taken by Chris Jordan, who debuted in the short series against Sri Lanka.

India's win at Lord's was their first overseas in three years after 10 defeats and two draws. Another win will be a big shot in the arm for Dhoni whose captaincy in Tests has also drawn criticism from many, most notable being Ian Chappell. He has found unlikely heroes in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane but it's high time that he also stepped up. His batting and keeping has been average so far and nothing demoralises a team more than an out-of-touch captain. It's also time that Virat Kohli and Chesteshwar Pujara hit their best form. From here on, the form of these two will play a decisive role in the outcome of the series.

Probable XI:

England:
1 Sam Robson, 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Joe Root, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Jos Buttler, (wk), 8 Ben Stokes/Chris Jordan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 James Anderson

India: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Mohammed Shami

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