|Indians aim for whitewash in lone T20|
KOLKATA, Oct 28 (PTI): Brimming with confidence after thrashing England 5-0 in the ODIs, India would be aiming to wrap it up in style by beating the visitors in the one-off Twenty20 International at the Eden Gardens here tomorrow.
After a forgettable English summer during which India were demolished in all forms of the game, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men returned to rule the roost in the home series against the same team.
India dominated in all the departments of the game with juniors as well as seniors doing their bit to humble the Englishmen.
The action will now shift to the shortest format when the 2008 ICC World Twenty20 winners lock horns against the reigning champions, who are struggling in Indian conditions.
That they have been installed as the number one Twenty20 side in ICC’s new rankings would hardly make a difference if the Englishmen fail to capitalise on their last chance to restore some pride in India.
But this Indian team is on a mission after they came back from the England tour, even as skipper Dhoni insisted on not calling it a revenge series.
The ODI world champions had to prove themselves and they did it in style by not giving England any chance to fight back. The Indians exposed England’s dreadful record here that reads one win from last 17 matches.
Dhoni, who is yet to be dismissed in this series, has lived up to the role of a finisher, amassing 212 unbeaten runs from four innings. Virat Kohli too has matured as a batsman, shouldering responsibility with elan. The Delhi youngster has been India’s leading run-getter in the absence of key players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.
Another Indian star batting performer has been Gautam Gambhir who will miss out on the Twenty20 because of his marriage. But that has handed Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa a huge opportunity to make a mark after remaining in the sidelines for three years.
Three back to back half-centuries in domestic Twenty20 tournament for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and a 132 for India Green in the Challengers shows that the Karnataka batsman is in rampaging form.
Uthappa, who was instrumental in India’s inaugural World Twenty20 win in 2008, had been sidelined after a poor outing in the Asia Cup the same year. A one-match inclusion does not mean a big opportunity but Uthappa would be keen to make an impression.
The match will test the skills of Mumbai opener Ajinkya Rahane as a Twenty20 batsman. Having impressed in the one-day series with his technique and temperament, it will be another big chance for the prolific Mumbai run-getter.
Back where he belongs, India will once again look for Yusuf Pathan’s big hits while his statemate Ravindra Jadeja will look to carry on his good one-day show.
The duo will also come in handy with their off-spin and left-arm orthodox, even as Tamil Nadu off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will lead the slow attack.
Ashwin (10) and Jadeja (11) shared 21 wickets between them from five one-dayers and the duo will be itching to make their presence felt on the slow-looking Eden track. Touted as India’s fastest, Varun Aaron impressed in his two outings in the one-dayers and it remains to be seen if Dhoni tests the mettle of his statemate alongside pace spearhead Praveen Kumar.
With no Eoin Morgan, the number one Twenty20 batsman in the world rankings, the English side is a depleted one as it will also miss regular skipper Stuart Broad. Offspinner Graeme Swann will captain the side.
That their star batsman Kevin Pietersen nurses a fractured left thumb makes matters worse for the English think-tank.
In the absence of Morgan, who was ruled out of the series because of an injury, wicketkeeper batsman Craig Kieswetter will look to give England a blistering start. The Somerset opener had a fine stint in India in the recently-concluded Champions League Twenty20.
With no Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara will lend stability to the side which also has Twenty20 specialist Alex Hales and Jos Buttler.
Lanky pacer Steven Finn has been a revelation for England in the series and, along with Tim Bresnan, will once again lead their pace battery that also has Stuart Meaker.
Teams (from): India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Manoj Tiwary, Varun Aaron, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Sharma, S Arvind
England: Graeme Swann (c), Craig Kieswetter (wk), Alex Hales, Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara, Jonathan Bairstow, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Scott Borthwick, Stuart Meaker, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Jos Buttler.
Field umpires: S Ravi, Sudhir Asnani; Third umpire: Vineet Kulkarni; Fourth Umpire: K Srinath. Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SLC).
Match starts: 6.30pm IST.