It is revenge time for India. Last year they lost to England in a keenly contested ODI series 4-3 and this time around with the home advantage, India would like to set the record straight. With the seven-match series begins in Rajkot from Friday, we look at players who may just prove to be the difference between the two sides.
MS Dhoni: It will be another chance for MS Dhoni to stamp his high-flying team’s domination on world cricket. One year into the job, Dhoni has authored a script which few would have expected. His leadership will once again play a crucial role against England. It will be a mighty clash when Dhoni’s midas touch meets Pietersen’s magic.
But Dhoni also has a pivotal role in India’s batting plans. His audacity at the death and ability to finish games will worry England.
Gautam Gambhir: He has been India’s in-form player. Gautam Gambhir, high on confidence, after a super Test series against Australia will like to make amends for his string of low scores in the ODIs in Sri Lanka.
He, along with Virender Sehwag, will be India’s chief protagonists against England and the swashbuckling pair will be decisive in the fate of the seven-match series.
Yuvraj Singh: Once India’s mainstay in the limited overs format, Yuvraj Singh’s form has been erratic this year. But his class has never been in question and setting his sight on Stuart Broad once again might just be the fillip the dashing southpaw needs.
With his vice-captaincy being taken away, Yuvraj Singh has more than a point to prove and with a Test spot vacant after Sourav Ganguly’s retirement the time to bounce back in form couldn’t be more right.
Harbhajan Singh: ‘The Turbanator’ is on a high and he looks hungry. England doesn’t have the best players of spin and Harbhajan will seek to bank on their vulnerability.
India’s most experienced bowler will have the job of keeping a tight leash on Pietersen and Co.
Kevin Pietersen: One man in the England camp that can take the series away from India is Kevin Pietersen. An outrageously talented batsman, Pietersen can make the best of the bowling attacks look mediocre and the Indian bowlers will be walking on a tight rope when pitted against the England captain. To make matters worse, Pietersen has been in sublime touch after he has taken over as the captain.
In 13 ODIs against India, Pietersen has an impressive average of 47.90 but is yet to score a century. With belters expected in the seven-match series, Pietersen will be looking to turn his tryst with India to another feather in his already glittering cap.
Andew Flintoff: ‘Freddie is back’ read one of the tabloids after the England allrounder won the Man of the series award in England’s home series against South Africa earlier this year. A string of injuries and many painful operations later, the Lancashire player is back at his dominating best and India will be wary of the man whose shirt
waving act in front of a stunned crowd in England’s last tour of India will be still ringing in the memories of the Indian fans.
He is one of the few players in the England squad that have the experience of playing in India and his late order surge or dangerous spells with the ball might just swing the balance, like it so often has.
Ian Bell: England’s sheath anchor Ian Bell is the perfect foil for his attacking team mates. Bell will look to keep up his terrific record against the Indians, averaging 56, his highest amongst all Test playing nations. With Bell lending solidarity to the England innings, it gives license to Pietersen and Co. to shed their inhibitions andd go all out.
The 26-year old has been burdened by expectations since his arrival in the international scene and has been a somewhat underperformer given his extraordinary talent. But with big scores in the longer version of the game, Bell is slowly but surely becoming his own man.
James Anderson: After being ignored from the previous tour of India, James Anderson now lands here as one of England’s most potent weapons. The enigmatic pacer has been India’s nemesis in the Test series in England last year that earned him the Man of the series award.
Pietersen will rely heavily on Anderson to check the daredevilry of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.