| Parthiv Patel during a practice session, on Thursday. (Getty Images) |
Calcutta/London: The horror seems far from over as an injury-ravaged India gear up for the third one-dayer against England Friday, still looking for that elusive win which would lift the sagging morale of the battle-weary side.
Trailing 0-1 in the series after being whitewashed 4-0 in the Tests, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have reasons to feel demoralised ahead of the day-night encounter.
The lack of bowling firepower has kept the visitors worried. They are resigned to the fact England would chase down any total they can rustle up in the remaining one-dayers.
No wonder Dhoni didnt mince words after losing the second one-dayer at Rose Bowl on Tuesday.
If it doesnt swing, we struggle. Most of our bowlers are in the 120-130 kmph range and it becomes very difficult, said the Team India captain and Friday could just make his worst fears come true.
The pitch at The Oval offers bounce but no sideways movement and the gentle pace of Indian seamers could turn out to be easy fodder for the England batsmen.
Dhoni conceded Praveen Kumar is not his best option in the death overs and is thus forced to keep Munaf Patel towards the end.
Praveen, despite an off-colour showing at the Rose Bowl, is reliable, as is Munaf, but beyond that the ranks are thin. Varun Aaron was flown in to give India the pace they have lacked all summer but has so far not played a match. The emphasis of this one-day series should now be a view to the future so its a pity Aaron cant get a game.
If India cant strike early, the in-form England batsmen are sure to make hay. A similar thing occurred in the second one-dayer where India ran up a decent total but were powerless to stop England from romping home with seven wickets to spare.
The crushing dominance was evident when England were 100 up on the board with 10 full overs yet to be completed. As if this was not enough, India is also worried on the count of fifth bowlers quota — a job Yuvraj Singh did with such aplomb in the past.
In the second match, it fell on Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to do the job but it would be beyond them to remain useful over a stretch of 10 overs.
That makes the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja a strong possibility. The all-rounder is a useful left-arm spinner and can add up a decent package with his notable fielding and batting. In such a scenario, Manoj Tiwary is likely to get the boot.
Ironically, Indias batting showed little effect of downturn despite losing so many stalwarts up the order. Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane have been startlingly good up the order. Virat Kohli has shown good intent and Suresh Raina is batting with a streak of vengeance.
Thus England could sense a killing in the rest of the matches. The pitches at the remaining three venues are unlikely to help seam and swing.
England have won four of their seven ODI games against India at The Oval but lost a high-scoring thriller the last times the teams met here in 2007. If England win at The Oval, it will be their fifth successive victory in completed ODI games.
Indians might be a depleted lot but England would take immense delight in prevailing over the visitors and ending the summer in style.
England wouldnt take their foot off the pedal for its a good practice opportunity for them to iron out their one-day follies.
For one, they are not seen as particularly adventurous in the initial overs. The issue was met squarely by England openers in the second one-dayer. Another issue is their rather timid approach in death overs. The hosts would be keen to sort this out, too.
India (likely): Ajinkya Rahane, Parthiv Patel, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Ranganath Vinay Kumar.
England (likely): Craig Kieswetter, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Ben Stokes, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jade Dernbach.
Match starts: 5.30 pm (IST).