London, June 28:
India would be hoping to take advantage of a depleted bowling
attack of the opposition when they take on an increasingly
assertive England in their first match of the triangular one-day
series here on Saturday.
Two of England's
frontline bowlers - Andrew Caddick and Darren Gough - are
unavailable in this series due to injuries and the inexperience
in the bowling line-up is all too evident.
True, even with the
limited options available, England were able to comfortably romp
home against Sri Lanka in the opening day-night match last
night, the 44-run victory providing a major boost to the home
team which had suffered losses to county sides in their practice
But England had the
cushion of a huge total which the batsmen had put up and the
bowlers were never really stretched.
It is because of this
that the performance of the main Indian batsmen would be very
crucial. Coach John Wright talked about Indians being capable of
putting the opposition under pressure and his team must prove
that capability here.
England are on a high
after their 2-0 victory over Sri Lanka in the Test series and
the 44-run triumph yesterday and Indians would really have to
fire on all cylinders to halt their winning juggernaut.
With the Indian bowling
line-up also not all that formidable - left-arm seamers Zaheer
Khan and Ashish Nehra have never played against England - it
will essentially boil down to a battle of the batsmen.
Most of the Indian
batsmen, including skipper Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar,
have helped themselves to some runs in the three practice games
but their unpredictability remains a problem.
Ganguly has fond
memories of Lord's where he scored a classic century on his Test
debut in 1996. He seems to have carried his fine form here from
the West Indies tour as was evident from the two attacking
knocks he played against county sides in the practice matches.
Tendulkar also had a
match-winning knock in one of those games and so had Virender
Sehwag who will continue to open the innings with the skipper.
Tendulkar has already said that he would once again bat in the
middle order in this series to lend more stability to the
While conditions favour
V V S Laxman, the stylish Hyderabad batsman is uncertain for a
place in the final eleven as the Indians might be tempted to
include the young brigade of Dinesh Mongia, Yuvraj Singh and
Mohd Kaif in its entirety because of the huge difference they
make in the quality of fielding.
England showed in the
match against Sri Lanka how much difference good fielding
performance can make and India must take lessons from that. The
fact that Mongia, Kaif and Yuvraj Singh have also been getting
runs heavily tilts the balance in their favour.
In the absence of
Javagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar will suddenly find himself
spearheading the Indian pace attack as both Nehra and Zaheer
Khan are new to this land. Both the left-arm seamers are almost
certainties for tomorrow's game as the conditions are likely to
suit their style of bowling.
But that would once
again mean that only one among Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh
can play. It will be a pity since both are match-winning bowlers
and former England captain David Gower believes the combination
can pose maximum problems to the English batsmen.
Kumble and Harbhajan,
in tandem, will be a potent threat, said Gower as he watched the
Indians play in the practice game at Leicester on Wednesday.
However, it will be too
much to expect the England batsmen to dance to the tunes of the
Indians. The English team has been on a winning spree in recent
times and the confidence level is sky high.
Batsmen like Marcus
Trescothick, Nick Knight, Michael Vaughan, skipper Nasser
Hussain and Graham Thorpe have been consistently scoring runs.
Alec Stewart made a resounding comeback to the national squad
with a solid 83 against Sri Lanka yesterday and he would
definitely like to continue the good showing in order to retain
his place in the side.
Andrew Flintoff is
another concern for the Indians. The burly all-rounder had shown
his big-hitting capabilities on the tour of India earlier this
year and he played a magnificent knock yesterday.
Bowling can be a slight
worry for England with only Flintoff and Matthew Hoggard, apart
from left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, as the experienced
campaigners in their ranks.
The toss would be vital
because both the sides would like to bat first, put up a big
score and put the opposition under pressure.
India: Sourav Ganguly
(captain), Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Rahul Dravid, Sachin
Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Ajay Ratra,
Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish
Nehra, Tinu Yohannan.
England: Nasser Hussain
(captain), Marcus Trescothick, Nick Knight, Alec Stewart, Graham
Thorpe, Andrew Flintoff, Ronnie Irani, James Kirtley, Jeremy
Snape, Matthew Hoggard, Ashley Giles, Alex Tudor, Michael
Vaughan, Paul Collingwood.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor
and Neil Mallender.