India vs England 1st ODI: Team Dhoni's Wait for Redemption Prolonged as Match Abandoned Due to Rain
Fresh from a Test series rout in England, world champions India looked to get back to winning ways in the first ODI. Incessant rain though forced the match to be called off without a ball being bowled.
18.12 (IST): Even the toss could not take place today due to heavy showers. The second ODI is scheduled to take place on Wednesday but forecast for Cardiff aren't too bright either.
18.05 (IST): Match abandoned. It's official. The first ODI has been called off without a ball being bowled due to heavy rain in Bristol.
17.45 (IST): Reports from the ground reveal the match can start latest by 15.47 (BST). That's 20.17 (IST). Little hope though as rain continues.
17.30 (IST): ODIs vs England provide a shot at redemption to India after the recent Test defeats. A plethora of reasons have been put forth for the humiliation but sacked England cricketer Kevin Pietersen feels it is not correct to blame IPL for the team's follies in Tests.
17.15 (IST): Meanwhile, Pakistan's Younis Khan has pulled out of the ODIs in Sri Lanka due to a personal family tragedy. Read report here. Pakistan's woes continue with spinner Saeed Ajmal being tested for his action by ICC.
16:47 (IST): Latest from Bristol - There has been no let-up in the rain and the prospects of play are getting bleaker with every passing moment. Meanwhile, in dry Harare, Zimbabwe face the daunting target of 351 against Australia. Live scores here
16.10 (IST): The ground staff at Bristol are working hard to keep the playing track dry. Despite continuing rain, most of them have been out on the field and ensuring the covers remain intact.
15.50 (IST): Even as the Indians wait for the rain to abate, there is a possible difference of opinion between skipper Dhoni and BCCI pertaining to coach Duncan Fletcher. While Dhoni believes Fletcher will lead India into the World Cup next year, BCCI feels 'that's his personal opinion'.
15.40 (IST): What do you know about County Ground in Bristol? Established in 1889, it has a 15,000 capacity for ODIs with temporary floodlights in place. While the drainage system here is decent, it is not the best in the world of cricket. Get to know about all England cricket grounds here.
15.15 (IST): Has Team India failed in England because it has lost courage and will to fight? Read what Suresh Raina has to say.
15.10 (IST): Recap: Did you know? Bhuvneshwar Kumar scored more runs than Virat Kohli in the five Tests against England. More stats here.
15.05 (IST):Weather update: The rain has become heavier in the last few minutes. The temperature is around 16C. With a wind speed of about 10kph, there is a chance the heavy clouds may gradually make way for clearer skies.
15.01 (IST): The stadium at Bristol doesn't have floodlights. It is unlikely that we will have a full game today.
14.20 (IST): Toss delayed due to rain! The news coming in is that the toss has been delayed. Heavy overnight and persistent early morning rain made a prompt start at the County Ground, in south-west England, impossible with the pitch and square extensively covered.
Fresh after the Test series ordeal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will hope to live up to his reputation as the world's leading captain in overs-limited cricket.Â No matter what the Indian cricket Board does with the coaching staff, only a solid performance on the ground will establish who the real boss is. History does not record the name of a coach or a team director. It records performances and India can only lift themselves by playing good cricket in the ODI series.
India have the ability and Dhoni is definitely a more astute limited-overs captain.
Having won almost every piece of international limited overs silverware, Dhoni will bank on his trusted lieutenants to look England in the eye. At least on paper, India will be the favourites, having won the ICC Champions Trophy with a series of convincing performances in UK conditions last year.
Interestingly, India have not won a limited overs ODI series versus England in the last 24 years. The last and only time India won in England was in 1990. Under Mohammed Azharuddin's captaincy, India won the Texaco Trophy beating England 2-0. Since then, India have played four - 1996, 2004, 2007 and 2011 -- bilateral ODI series in England, always finishing on the wrong side of the scoreline.
The best India have done in an ODI series was in 2007. It was a long seven-match series with India losing 4-3 under Rahul Dravid's captaincy. Paul Collingwood was the England captain. In 2011, when India received a 4-0 Test thrashing, Dhoni lost the ODI series too. England won 3-0 under Alastair Cook's captaincy.
India are showing positive signs of a turnaround. Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu scored fifties in a warm-up game against Derbyshire last week. Kohli has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in this series and Dhoni will expect his deputy to silence critics by scoring runs. Kohli has two hundreds against England in 17 ODIs. Dhoni will hope Suresh Raina justifies his selection too.
England are looking up to rookie star Alex Hales. Cook has confirmed Hales will make his one-day debut and open the batting for England. Hales, 25, is a regular in the England Twenty20 side but now has the chance to stake his claim for a place in England's squad for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February.
"Alex Hales will open the batting with me," Cook told a news conference on Sunday. Cook believes the explosive, in-form Nottinghamshire opener will bring something different to the England batting line-up. "What's been pleasing about Alex over the last month is he has scored four hundreds for Nottinghamshire, and at a good rate," he said.
The imposing Hales has been ranked the best Twenty20 batsmen in the world and Dhoni thinks his bold approach and versatility will benefit England. "The last few times he's played Twenty20, he's shown he's definitely a fantastic batsman," Dhoni said. "He's a tall guy with excellent reach and he also plays the spinners well. It will be a good acquisition for the English side."
The Test rout has certainly taught Team Dhoni to respect the opposition. If the weather gods allow a full game, it will show how much India has clawed back from the pits of despair.