In hope to make amends for the drubbing in England, India will once again face their nemesis of late - England - in an ODI series that begins with the first match here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday.
MS Dhoni's side had a miserable time touring England this summer, failing to win even a single match in any form of the game. At the beginning of the summer, they were ranked as the number one Test side, but after a humiliating whitewash administered by England, they have dropped to third place. With no Test matches scheduled for this English tour of India, Dhoni's men eye revenge on the one-day stage. And they will be eager to begin this process with a win on Friday.
India will be without their stalwarts SachinTendulkar, VirenderSehwag, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh, besides badly missing the likes of Rohit Sharma, Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma, all of whom are out due to injuries sustained on the recent tour of England.
So while fans will hope that injuries don't come back to haunt their team at home, Vengeance will definitely top the priority list.
India will be boosted by the return of a fit GautamGambhir. Middle order batsman and undoubtedly the future of India's batting ViratKohli will be the key man in the middle who can be both the aggressor and the anchor as the situation demands. He was the man RCB counted on in the recently concluded Champions League T20 and will surely want to carry that form into this series. Suresh Raina and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni have played non-stop cricket for long and it showed during the failures in the CLT20. That, in fact, may put more pressure on the young batsmen in the side.
Openers Parthiv Patel and AjinkyaRahane will again have a chance to shine in absence of the regular openers and if both continue in the same vain as they did in England, it can really take the pressure of the India's middle and lower order.
The bowling department has been the centre of debate in run up to this series, and in the absence of Zaheer to open the attack, Dhoni will surely rely on spin. However, here too India will be without Harbhajan Singh, who has been dropped. So even in the spin department, Dhoni will have to cater with the relatively inexperienced R Ashwin and RavindraJadeja, and the untested Rahul Sharma.
In the pace front, Praveen Kumar, who was the only bowler to trouble England batsman in England, will lead the attack. Varun Aaron, who was sent as a replacement to England but didn't get a game, is likely to make his debut on Friday and may even share the new ball with Kumar. Dhoni is unlikely to include a third pacer in the form of Vinay Kumar, UmeshYadav or S Aravind and may go in with a spin heavy attack. In that case Rahul Sharma may make his debut as the fourth bowler apart from Kumar, Aaron and Ashwin, with all-rounder Jadeja providing variety with his potent left-arm spin.
On the other hand, England have played two warm up fixtures since landing on Indian soil, both against the Hyderabad Cricket Association. In the first fixture, their batting didn't fire as suggested by a total of 219. However, the bowlers rose to the occasion dismissing Hyderabad cheaply. In the second game, the English batsmen raised their game and annihilated the opposition by a huge 253-run margin after Johnny Bairstow's whirlwind century took them to 367 batting first. Skipper Alastair Cook too made an assertive 85 off 74 balls, showing critics once again that he has the attacking ability necessary to play one-day cricket. And England will hope to play with the same purpose and aggression on Friday.
The other England opener Craig Kieswetter has been in India for a while playing in CLT20 and he has been in bright form of late. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell will be key men in the middle order as both have the ability to change gears and play according to the conditions. The return of Kevin Pietersen will definitely be a boost for the English middle order and he has been getting maximum attention as well. In-form Ravi Bopara will be their all-rounder who can be a handful for this Indian team. He has already shown that glimpse when he rescued his team in the first practice game scoring a brilliant 73.
Bowling department could be slight worry for England as they are without spearhead bowlers like Jamie Anderson and Stuart Broad, but the attack still has enough bite in it to worry Indian batsman. Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn are no mean bowlers and with Finn taking hat-trick in the tour game, a warning has already been issued. But Graeme Swann will undoubtedly be the spearhead in Indian conditions and can be the difference between the two teams.
India have historically placed more emphasis on the importance of limited-overs cricket than England. The reigning World Champions will, therefore, be mortified to have slipped behind England in the one-day rankings and will be desperate to climb above them once again by winning the series.