The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Another cracker of a game on cards
- No change in Team India’s seven-batsman formula
- R.P. Singh to replace Ajit Agarkar

London: Indiaís last tournament win at Lordís had seen Sourav Ganguly hit convention for a six by taking his shirt off on the balcony. That was his way of settling scores with Andrew Flintoff, who had done much the same a few months earlier.

If Team India win Saturdayís NatWest series decider against England, itís to be seen whether Rahul Dravid repeats his predecessorís act.

The Indians have been riding a wave of superlative team performances and are hoping the momentum will see them through in the final game of the seven-match series. Consecutive victories at Headingley and the Oval have given the side a much-needed boost ahead of the crunch tie.

One striking feature of the wins has been the excellent starts provided by the opening combination of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. A mix of Sachinís controlled power and Souravís off-side majesty has been giving the middle order the platform to launch an all-out offensive in the final overs.

India famously chased 326 to beat England at Lordís in 2002 and memories of that win will spur them on to believe it could be done again.

Despite enjoying home advantage, the way England surrendered their 3-1 advantage will not inspire the die-hards. Injuries, no doubt, have played a huge role.

They missed Andrew Flintoff in the last four games. Ravi Boparaís absence ó a broken thumb during the fifth game ó has only compounded problems.

England have been fragile under pressure. Their inexperience has been exposed when the batsmen havenít been able to put runs on the board.

The Indians have tried a seven-four as well as a six-five combination in this series.

The seven-batsman formula paid off in the last two matches, and it was the strokeplay of young Robin Uthappa, who came in at No. 7, which helped India clinch the cliff-hanger and level the series 3-3.

At the team meeting late on Saturday, it was decided that Rudra Pratap Singh would replace Ajit Agarkar in the XI. There will also be no change in the seven-batsman formula.

On all three occasions that India have won in this series, they have posted 300-plus totals with the opening pair putting on a century stand. Everyone will hope this formula continues to work.

Saturday will surely mark the last India appearance in England for Sachin, Sourav and Dravid. While Sachin has been touring there from 1990, the other two made their first trip in 1996.

One area of concern for Dravid will be fielding. The Indians, who have been pathetic right through the series, showed marginal improvement in the last two games.

However, they will need to be sharper and more athletic to make things difficult for England.

There will not be any shortage of support for Dravidís men. In the past, many of the England players were left wondering while facing India whether they were playing at home or away.

Such vociferous backing will no doubt egg on Dravidís men who will be looking to round off the UK tour on a high.


India: Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Piyush Chawla.

England (from): Alastair Cook, Matt Prior, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Owais Shah, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Dimitry Mascarenhas, Monty Panesar, Luke Wright.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, N.J. Llong.

Match referee: Roshan Mahanama.

Match starts: 2.45pm (IST).

Email This Page