Harsha Bhogle

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World Cup champs in English challenge

India may have relinquished their world No.1 status in Tests, or maybe just handed over tenancy, but they now have the World Cup-winners tag to carry. There is little doubt that India are better in the shorter form and though some might argue that anything would be better than what they have just seen, there are a couple of issues they need to resolve.


India have picked nine batsmen and seven bowlers which isn't unusual in itself except that none of the batsmen really bowl and none of the bowlers really bat. There isn't a Sourav Ganguly anymore to bowl seam up, neither is there a Yuvraj Singh to give MS Dhoni seven or eight overs consistently.


And so, if you choose to play five bowlers, which has never really been the Indian way, somebody has to bat number seven. After the revelation from Amit Mishra at the Oval, maybe he could be that person, though Ravichandran Ashwin probably has greater credentials at this stage.


It is more likely, though, that India will play seven batsmen so, individually or severally, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina or Rohit Sharma will have to bowl 10 overs. It is not the most appetising thought, especially if the two batting options not in this list are Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel. India will be a bowler short and if one of the regulars has a bad day, which does tend to happen, the captain could be searching around a bit in the field!


I guess you could get by in the T20 game but assuming Dravid doesn't play, the replacement isn't likely to be your first choice player; which leads me to wonder why a couple of players couldn't have been sent out to play that game, perhaps a Yusuf Pathan or a Manoj Tiwary, who's got a few runs in the Emerging Players Tournament in Australia. A strong performance in the T20 will send out a strong signal of intent.


I will be just as keen to see how England get by. They are, essentially, a Test match-playing nation in much the same way India now seem to be a limited-overs-playing country. Their preparation for the Ashes and for the home series they have just won was exhaustive. But they weren't very good at the World Cup, where they were tired but, just as visibly, not really fired up.


I suspect the conditions will have a major say but if the rain stays away India might not mind the drier wickets.

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