Just three points separate third-placed England from fifth-placed India in the ICC one-day rankings, so there is plenty on the line as the teams line up for a seven-match contest starting in Rajkot from Friday.
MS Dhoni and Kevin Pietersen are two of the modern game’s superstars and the men who will lead their teams into what is expected to be a high octane contest. So not surprisingly it’s this battle within a battle that is being built up.
The England captain puts it in perspective. “I certainly don’t think it’s only between me and Dhoni. Dhoni is a great player, he’s led India very, very well since Kumble.”
While Dhoni says, “It’s not about outsmarting each other. As a skipper it’s about outplaying each other.”
For India the biggest challenge is to transition smoothly from the whites to coloured clothing. Taming the mighty Australians in the Test series can no longer be part of dressing room conversations. This is a new challenge, a new format with new personnel.
But Dhoni doesn’t think of it as an excuse. “We had only three days’ time to switch over from the last Test series and get on with one-day cricket. It’s quite tough, but as international cricketers we are supposed to do it.”
Pietersen’s England too have a burden to overcome. They were handed out a crushing defeat in the $20-million winner-takes-all in Antigua. But recent one-day form has been sharp and England are confident that the right men are in place to get the job done.
The form of his senior members has impressed Pietersen. “I think we are very fortunate to have such a huge core of the team which is very experienced, but also are raring to go on such good form.”
England haven’t won a series here in the last two decades. But then, having beaten South Africa at home 4-0, the English team led by Kevin Pietersen is high on confidence. On the other hand, India aren’t concerned about adapting to the one-day format in just three days and would like to continue the winning momentum