It has been a while since the Indian cricket fan has got a reason to smile. Over the last 12 months, they’ve had to be satisfied with the odd victory here and there. In such a scenario, and ODI series win against England would be most welcome. The Indians haven’t been at their best in the ongoing series as well, but have been competent enough to keep the English challenge at bay. One more assertive performance at Mohali and the series would be in their bag. This should be inspiration enough for the hosts to go all out in the fourth ODI on Wednesday.
The key to India’s success in the series so far has been their all-round effort, with the bat as well as in the field. The changes India have rung in following the string of losses are bearing fruit for now. Rookie pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed, who impressed against Pakistan, have continued their good form against England as well. The striking aspect of both the newcomers has been that they have looked the part of international cricket despite only just making an entry recently. Although it is too early to make an assessment on their future, the initial signs are encouraging.
Ravindra Jadeja’s performance in the last two games has been standout, and he has been one of the key factors why India find themselves in such a comfortable position. Going into the series, Jadeja’s place in the Indian squad was under serious threat, and he had to do something substantial to prove his worth to the side. The youngster from Saurashtra has done exactly that. His batting at Kochi was precisely what India was waiting to see from him. Also, he has made a mark with his bowling instead of just filling in as the fifth bowler.
Speaking of the captain, M S Dhoni has led from the front with the bat. He was India’s in-form batsman going into the series, and has continued to prosper. Although, there hasn’t been anything extraordinary about his leadership, it has to be said that he looks a lot more relaxed and in control while captaining in this format of the game. Dhoni has taken the brunt of the criticism for India’s downfall over the last two years. A series win would be a welcome change for him as well. Virat Kohli’s return to form at Ranchi must have pleased the dressing room as well.
Even after so many pluses, there is still scope for improvement in the squad. Ajinkya Rahane must get runs to justify his selection ahead of the in-form Cheteshwar Pujara in the series. Also for Gautam Gambhir, it has to be mentioned for the umpteenth time that he needs to start converting his starts. Among the others, Yuvraj Singh has looked sublime at the crease, but hasn’t been able to carry on to make bigger scores. If everything falls into place, there is no reason why India shouldn’t put it across England again at Mohali.
--By A Cricket Analyst