London: India have been in the need of a miracle in England. Going by the performance in the T20 and the first two ODI's, the visitors will need some lethal doses of sting-bowling as well to finally register a win, in the 3rd ODI scheduled at The Oval on Friday.
While the batting has shown that India can take the opposition bowling to the cleaners at will, the bowling has looked toothless at best and has been unable to defend whatever target that the batsmen have given the team. Ajinkya Rahane has been a good inclusion along with Parthiv Patel but Indian openers with the ball, have hardly come close to proving their skills as these two batsmen have.
If Patel and Rahane have been brash, aggressive and unforgiving, Praveen and Vinay Kumar have been ordinary at best. While Praveen has claimed the odd wicket, Vinay Kumar is yet to justify his inclusion in the side apart from making the numbers up. What makes it worse for this Kochi Tuskers bowler is that he has been leaking runs as well. While MS Dhoni does not have a pace battery at his disposal, Vinay Kumar would do best to not take his place for granted.
Skipper MS Dhoni has already stressed on the need for the bowlers to come good. (Read report here)
Batting up a storm?
The strategy to go with seven batsmen has worked well for India but it has eventually come to a naught. Setting a challenging target for the opposition is only half the battle won.
The solace is the batting which needs just that little extra to take the match. MS Dhoni batting at six is perhaps, a watse of his batting abilities as the 'finishing-with-a-bang' ability has been missing. Virat Kohli is another batsman who needs to come good on his skill. While form has so far evaded this powerful batsman, Kohli will look to set his eye in and cross over into double-digits to find back his form and change his team's fortunes.
The other side of the duel
On the other side of the field is a team that is being led by a skipper who is making elementary mistakes but registering wins nonetheless. Alastair Cook has a bowling unit that is oscillating between brilliance and medeocrity only to have the batsmen stage dramatic rescue acts to tak the team through.
Graeme Swann has bowled well within himself, Tim Bresnan has been effective and Jade Dernbach has been effective as well. The combined effort though, has been shoddy at best. With seven bowlers used consistantly, Cook will have to come up with a contingency plan for when and if the batting fails to click.
England (possible): Alastair Cook (capt), Craig Kieswetter, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Ben Stokes, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Jade Dernbach.
India (possible): MS Dhoni (capt), Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar and Munaf Patel.
Is expected to be in favour of the batsman and a high-scoring match is at hand. The bowlers will look to keep the punishment to the minimum although it is not anywhere close to how the sub-continent tracks are.
Overcast conditions are predicted for the day-night contest. Light showers can halt the match but a repeat of Southmapton where the match was reduced to 23-a side will not be repeated.