Author: Will Smith
Published: 15:27 10/01/2013
If Ashley Giles were given a chance to devise a set of circumstances in which to play a one-day international series against India on their own soil – knowing it’s his first series as the main coach of England – then surely the current situation is not far off what he would have conjured up.
No Tendulkar, no Dravid, no Laxman, no Sehwag, no Zaheer, no Harbhajan. Quite simply India are hurtling headlong into depths that they have not visited in my lifetime certainly. The younger brigade of batsmen (Kohli, Gambhir, Raina, Jadeja), who looked so exciting and unburdened with inhibitions when playing alongside the aforementioned legends, are now really struggling for form. Ishant Sharma, their spearhead with the ball, has also been struggling with form and fitness.
The England Test series loss on their own patch would have hurt, and you thought that India would bounce back in the subsequent ODI series against Pakistan. After drawing the Twenty20’s 1-1, they then lost the ODI’s 2-1. With not one batsman passing 50 save for MS Dhoni, who rescued them twice in the ODI’s, while Yuvraj popped up with a blistering 72 in the 1st Twenty20. But no top order batter looked in good touch. Cheteshwar Pujara, so resolute and prolific against England in the Tests, has been added to the squad. But sadly it appears he will not feature in the first game at Rajkot.
As the wicket is reportedly looking like as if it will be very favourable to batsmen, were Pujara to play and presumably bat in the top three, then the 8/1 on offer about him being top Indian series batsman would look extremely tempting. If he were to be on the team sheet then that has to be a good bet.
England, in contrast, are firmly on an upward curve. Led by a captain whose stock is significantly on the rise, and with that buoyant Test series victory, and the memory of an ODI series win against Pakistan the last time they were on the subcontinent fairly fresh, then England should be quietly confident of winning the series. It would be a great achievement to win here, India’s troubles notwithstanding, and Ashley Giles will be so keen to begin his international coaching career with a bang.
India would still be just favourites in my eyes, but not the 4/9 that they are in places. 7/4 about an England series win with William Hill looks very generous indeed.
England series win – 7/4 (William Hill)
Cheteshwar Pujara (if he plays 1st ODI) Top Indian series batsman – 8/1 (Paddy Power)