England eager to avoid whitewash


England have a final chance to avoid a whitewash but the omens don’t look good. India have overpowered them in all areas, relishing home conditions again after a difficult few months overseas. After the problems they faced in England this series has shown that India’s 50-over game is in pretty reasonable health and it has given Duncan Fletcher another chance to look at a number of young players. He’ll have been impressed by what he has seen, too. R Ashwin has caused England no end of problems, Varun Aaron made an exciting debut, Ravindra Jadeja is a talented allrounder and Ajinkya Rahane has been a solid presence. Meanwhile, MS Dhoni has led his stand superbly – out-captaining Alastair Cook by a street – and continues to defy his enormous workload.
For England it’s a less rosy picture. The batting, apart from once in Mohali, has failed to adapt to conditions and having started the tour on a crest of a wave this has been a sudden jolt back down to earth. The management won’t panic, they are wiser than that, but the last two weeks has gone to reinforce that some of England’s one-day game is still lagging behind. After a year where almost everything has gone right for Alastair Cook he’s again a man under pressure. Not that his place is under threat but he has come in for some criticism on this short tour, both for his own tactics and the behaviour of his team. After making a promising 60 in the opening game the runs haven’t flowed, either, which has meant England have struggled for solid starts, but it doesn’t yet count as a slump. Cook isn’t part of the Twenty20 side so this will be his final England outing until January and he’ll be desperate to leave with something positive.
The crowds for this series have been disappointing with vast numbers of empty seats in traditional hot-beds such as Mumbai. Even in India, where one-day cricket is king, the signs are emerging of overkill. This is Eden Gardens’ biggest match since early 2010 – they staged World Cup fixtures but their marquee game between these two teams was moved to Bangalore – and history shows that a full house is one of cricket’s most compelling sights. That, though, appears an unlikely prospect.
There aren’t many parts of India’s game that haven’t gone to plan, but Parthiv Patel hasn’t had a productive series opening the batting and it could be a chance to give Manoj Tiwary an outing. Elsewhere, it would only be a question of whether anyone needs a rest.
Warm and sunny during the day, although perhaps not as hot as Mumbai, while dew hasn’t been the major factor that it might have been during the series. For IPL matches the surface has tended to be slow and low. India would be quite happy with more of the same.
India (possible): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Vinay Kumar, 11 Varun Aaron
England (possible): 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Meaker, 11 Steven Finn.