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Angus: Cup will be on minds of both teams

- ‘Shikhar a fantastic timer of the ball’
Shikhar Dhawan

London: England national selector Angus Fraser feels the upcoming five-match ODI series against India will be a tough one, as the two teams will also be looking ahead to the 2015 World Cup.

The first ODI will be played in Bristol on Monday.

“England lost to Sri Lanka earlier in the summer and India have just been hurt in the last three weeks, and both the teams will want to correct that,” said Fraser.

“At the same time, they have to start preparations for the World Cup in Australia-New Zealand, and try to identify players who will be suited to the conditions there. They will have the World Cup on their mind. So it is a tough balance between winning this series and getting ready for the World Cup, and both sides will be searching for it,” he added.

England will only be playing ODIs in the run-up to the World Cup with an engagement against Sri Lanka in the winter. India will be playing West Indies at home and the two sides will then again clash in a tri-series in Australia leading to the quadrennial event.

For this series, the hosts have made a couple of changes from their ODI series loss to Sri Lanka, dropping Ravi Bopara, Michael Carberry and Tim Bresnan.

Alex Hales was drafted in to open alongside skipper Alastair Cook while Steve Finn was brought in for Stuart Broad, who will miss the series owing to his long pending knee-surgery.

“By now, all sides have a nucleus of the players they want to take to the World Cup. There are always six-seven players who will be tried out in the coming months and they can at best fill the last three-four spots,” said Fraser, who joined the selection panel in March this year, after Andy Flower stepped down as team-director.

“That tri-series in Australia will be a dress-rehearsal, a mini-World Cup before the real event, and I think all three sides will play their World Cup squads there, more or less,” he added.

India, too, have a couple of ‘young’ additions to their squad with Sanju Samson and Karn Sharma being part of the set-up. The selectors back home have also sent forth Dhawal Kulkarni and Mohit Sharma to try out their options ahead of the World Cup.

Asked to name the Indian players England will watch out for in the coming series, Fraser couldn’t really pin-point one.

“You cannot look further than Virat Kohli. Ravindra Jadeja is another name that comes to mind. But Shikhar Dhawan should do well as he is a fantastic timer of the ball,” he said.

“The thing about this Indian side is that they have so many good players, fantastic players who have played a lot of one-day cricket and have performed to a high level. When you have that many good players, you want one of them to perform each game. India will be looking for the big names to deliver and set an example for the rest of the squad,” he added.

If that does happen, India will be able to turn around their tour after suffering embarrassment in the last three Tests at Southampton, Manchester and the Oval, squandering their 1-0 lead in the series gained at Lord’s.

Asked how the selectors helped this turnaround after low morale in the hosts’ camp, the former England fast bowler gave credit to the players. “It wasn’t down to selection, rather it was only performance of the players,” said Fraser.

“They are the ones who score runs and take wickets. They created situations throughout the summer until Lord’s, but when they were in a dominant position to control the game, they let it slip and the opposition took advantage.

“Then England put their game together, James Anderson and Stuart Broad took wickets, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell scored runs, and the youngsters were already contributing.” (PTI)