Rejigged squad offers promise; Morgan looks to continue momentum
A little after 4 p.m. on Wednesday the Indian Twenty20 team arrived at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, which was all decked up to stage its first international match on Thursday.
Nine of the 15-member squad here were not part of the eleven that played the fourth Test against England at Nagpur and eight among them — apart from Yuvraj Singh — did not have any role to play in the series that India lost 1-2.
It is the big change in the squad that brings hope for a change in the fortunes of the team that has appeared quite stale, lacking in energy and ideas after the reversal in the second Test at Mumbai.
As soon as they stepped onto the ground, the two left-handers Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja practised a few shots before joining the team for a half-hour training session supervised by the support staff in the presence of coach Duncan Fletcher and bowling coach Joe Dawes.
Skipper Dhoni was of the opinion there was nothing to carry from the Test match mindset and outcome of the series to the shortest version of the game.
“It’s a completely different format, so I don’t think there’s any point in carrying anything from the Test series. It’s demanding, but that’s how it is. Here (in Twenty20) you have to hit from the very first ball and patience means two-three deliveries. As an international cricketer, you are expected to stand up to the demands of the game,” he said.
The Test series loss was a big disappointment, especially after the nine-wicket win at Motera.
“It was disappointing that we didn’t win the series. But we did pretty well in the last Test. The wicket was far too flat (at Nagpur) and there was nothing in it for the bowlers. There’s really no point in thinking about the past, it’s best to stick to the present. So let’s think about the format we are playing now,” said Dhoni.
The match will bring into the big picture the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma.
Unfortunately Bengal’s Manoj Tiwary will be out of action due to injury and his place has been given to Ambati Rayudu. Most of the players have been in the thick of action in the Ranji Trophy, and Mumbai’s Rohit Sharma has been in good nick right through the season scoring 712 runs in six matches with three big centuries and two half-centuries.
With Virender Sehwag making himself unavailable for the two matches against England, Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane, who has played three Twenty20 Internationals, is almost certain to open the innings with Gautam Gambhir.
The in-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Parvinder Awana are the newcomers in the team. The spin department will be without Harbhajan Singh. It was his four-wicket spell that fetched a 90-run win for India against England in the ICC Twenty20 match in Sri Lanka recently.
England will miss Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann. Pietersen has scored 1,176 runs and Swann and Broad have taken 51 and 48 wickets in Twenty20 matches.
“Performance under pressure is what the selectors want to see. It’s a great opportunity for me to lead the side. It’s a big challenge to play a big team like India. England won the Test series and I hope it has a knock-on effect on the Twenty20 and one-day series. We will try and keep the momentum going,” said England captain Eoin Morgan.
India (from): M.S. Dhoni (Capt.), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, A. Rayudu, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Ashoke Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Parvinder Awana.
England (from): Eoin Morgan (Capt.), James Harris, Jonny Bairstow, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Samit Patel, Joe Root, James Tredwell and Luke Wright.