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Relentless India poised to extend domination over England to T20
Friday, October 28, 2011

Kolkata :  Reigning Twenty20 world champions England will take on India, the winners of the inaugural edition, Saturday to salvage some pride after their 0-5 whitewash in the ODI series.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led India would love to continue their stranglehold over the shorter version of the game in the series as the two sides play the first Twenty20 International at the hallowed Eden Gardens here.

After the nightmarish 0-4 loss in Tests, 0-3 in One-Day Internationals and also in the only Twenty20 international in England, the Indians have staged a remarkable turnaround at home to put it across the visitors. And victory on the morrow would complete India's resurgence in what is being dubbed the "payback series".

As everyone who got an opportunity in the ODI series has come good, the Indian team management has no dearth of options. Two among Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthappa and Manoj Tiwary would fill up the batting slots after the certainties Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja walk into the team.

Dhoni and Kohli have been in awesome form. While the captain scored 212 runs without being dismissed even once to be the man of the ODI series, Kohli amassed 270 before going out for a duck in the last match at Eden Tuesday.

In bowling, Rahul Sharma is a hot contender for a berth in the eleven, having seen the Englishmen's vulnerability against spin in the ODIs with left-arm orthodox Ravindra Jadeja and offie Ravichandran Ashwin leading the tally with 11 and 10 wickets.

The two sides have so far clashed in three Twenty20 matches, with England
triumphing in two of them and India winning the other.

England have recently topped the ICC's inaugural rankings for the format with 127 points -- one ahead of Sri Lanka -- and would extend their lead to four points if they win here. But a defeat would see the visitors drop to third behind the two sub-continental teams.

However, the visitors may have to go into the match without their batting mainstay Kevin Pietersen, who missed the final ODI, having broken his thumb in the fourth game in Mumbai. Petersen's fate depends on the results of a fitness test conducted Friday, and his absence would deplete England's strength to a great extent as he is their best bet against spin.

Offie Graeme Swann, who would lead the side in the absence of injured regular skipper Stuart Broad, has to deliver the goods in bowling alongside his left arm spin partner Samit Patel in what is likely to be another slow surface, like the one seen Tuesday.

One-day skipper Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have returned home, big hitting Jos Buttler - the youngest member of the side now - and 6'5" tall top order batsman Alex Hales joining the squad for this game.

After the embarrassment of a mere 27,000 turnout Tuesday - the lowest ever at the historic ground in ODI matches involving India - the local organisers have something to cheer for with reports of ticket sales having picked up for Saturday's tie.

"We are expecting a crowd of at least 50,000," said Cricket Association of Bengal Joint Secretary Biswarup Dey, on the eve of the maiden Twenty20 International here. After the massive renovation during the World Cup earlier this year, Eden now has a reduced capacity of only 67,300 spectators. (IANS)


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