Trudging disconsolately in the footsteps of a sensational Test series victory comes the traditional one day sequel. These are almost always more Titanic 2 than The Dark Knight, so much so that England have barely bothered to take this one seriously at all. The tourists have triumphed in just one of the last 38 billion ODI’s in India and have decided to make sure they have a ready-made excuse this time by resting pretty much every bowler with limbs. As for India, they’d probably take a bowling attack with one limb between them ahead of their current lot. It should be an absolute belter.
It is a new year for England and, to some extent, a new era. This is the first international outing for Ashley Giles in his role of Limited Overs Head Coach, whilst Andy Flower is presumably relaxing somewhere with a box set of the Brittas Empire. Well, that’s what we generally do on our days off anyway.
This leg of the tour feels strange, separated as it is from the Tests and T20s by the Christmas and Hogmanay festivities. Judging by the results of the two warm-up games, England overindulged on twiglets, turkey and tiramisu, as they turned up and were promptly battered by India A (53 runs) and Delhi (six wickets). Our Lord and Saviour Ian Bell was the sole bright spark of those friendlies, with scores of 91 and 108. Unfortunately, everyone else is apparently still really hungover.
England are searching for balance between their youth and experience, but they’re still number one in the world (bet that’s news to you) and will surely do better than their previous visit when they lost about 19-0. The main selection questions would appear to be which player should bat at six (probably Samit Patel ahead of Jos Buttler and Joe Root) and which bowlers ought to be picked (really only Steven Finn and James Tredwell can be considered automatic choices, which says a lot). Our only suggestion is they don’t commit the same mistake as in the tour games; confuse a dusty sub-continent track with Chester-le-street in May and pick a whole load of seamers by accident. They can have that one for free.
Speaking of excessive eating, what of India? Well following their humiliating defeat by England in the Test series (and embarrassing draw in the T20s), they’ve since gone and lost at home to Pakistan. Their victory in the third and final ODI to avoid a whitewash saw an outburst of celebration the kind of which is usually reserved for goals in the World Cup Final, birdies at the Ryder Cup or good deliveries from Nathan Lyon.
Primary fatty Virender Sehwag has been dropped – not literally, or you’d have felt it – and Chester Pujara has replaced him. Ajinkya Rahane will probably open with Gautam Gambhir, meaning that although Pujara has scored more runs this season than Sehwag’s had hot dinners, he may not feature given the undroppable line of players ahead of him.
The attack could feature any of the assorted bunch of bowlers that the BCCI have deemed acceptable but, so long as beautiful Ravindra Jadeja and unbeautiful Yuvraj Singh are playing, the England batsmen are guaranteed to collapse amidst a tidal wave of pies anyway.
Sehwag’s local all you can eat buffet to go out of business, a whole heap of runs for Alastair Cook, a spectacular collapse or seven and a close finish in amongst it all. Plus Gordon Brittas to misunderstand something that is said at Whitbury Leisure Centre, with hilarious consequences.