Dernbach to pay for costly ODI displays

 

Mohali

After three browntop back-breakers in a row, England's bowlers could be forgiven for pining for the green, greentops of home. However, when they caught sight of the Mohali pitch for the first time yesterday, homesickness will have faded fast.

To corrupt a well-known line, the wicket for tomorrow's fourth one-day international will make the seamers feel that there's some corner of a Chandigarh field that is for ever Edgbaston.

It did not take Warwickshire native Ian Bell very long to think of Blighty as he sympathised with the bowlers' recent plight. "It's been very nice today, very English really. It will have a little more pace and bounce for seamers, and they will be happier it's cooler."

England's batsmen should also find the pace of the pitch more to their liking. India's bowlers have held to a rigid line and length this series, forcing their opponents to take the initiative. On slower, lower pitches, adapting has proved beyond them. On a quicker pitch, Bell and his opening partner Alastair Cook must make hay while the ball shines.

As one local journalist suggested, with binoculars trained on the greentop, if England cannot beat India in a one-dayer in Mohali, they won't be able to beat them anywhere.

On the one previous occasion they did play a one-day match here it ended in narrow defeat but even then Steven Finn and a pre-elbow injury Tim Bresnan did share four genuine seamers' scalps.

Finn terrorised the Indian batsmen that day in October 2011 and if fear of Finn did for Ajinkya Rahane in the last two matches, the opener would have been calmed by initial reports that Finn had injured a finger on his bowling hand; news that the injury is not serious will have sent Rahane to the nearest panic room.

Of the side who took to the field for England in 2011, eight played in the third one-day match last Saturday. Tomorrow that number is likely to be reduced by two. Fifteen months ago Jade Dernbach's 10 wicketless overs cost 69 runs. Across the series he took just a single wicket and conceded 168 runs at an average of 6.54 per over.

He played only three of the five matches then and it appears history will repeat itself in 2013. If that first tour was a tragedy for his bowling figures, this time they border on the farcical.

The 26-year-old is going at 7.79 runs an over and, after the Ranchi game, is now the most expensive bowler in one-day international history. Dernbach's travails stem from too much variation and too little thought and now two players – Stuart Meaker and Chris Woakes – will fight to take his place in the fourth one-day match, to be played here tomorrow.

Woakes was sporadic in Kochi, while Meaker has been confined to the nets since first flying out as cover in November and deserves an opportunity on a helpful pitch.

One guarantee is that a Somerset man will be behind the stumps. If extensive practice at the ground yesterday is any indication, that man will be Jos Buttler, not the incumbent, Craig Kieswetter.

The 22-year-old's natural technique behind the stumps has won him admirers and he kept tidily during the two Twenty20 matches before Christmas, although it is a big leap from 20 to 50 overs.

One alternative scenario would see Kieswetter given one last chance after two significant failures to control an innings, with the all-rounder Woakes replacing Samit Patel to provide extra seam power.

The thinking being that England wouldn't play two spinners at Edgbaston, so why would they in some corner of a Chandigarh field?

Fourth ODI: Mohali details

Probable teams:

India

A M Rahane, G Gambhir, V Kohli, Y Singh, S K Raina, M S Dhoni (capt; wk), R A Jadeja, R Ashwin, B Kumar, I Sharma, Shami Ahmed

England

A N Cook (capt), I R Bell, K P Pietersen, J E Root, E J G Morgan, S R Patel, J C Buttler (wk), C R Woakes, T T Bresnan, J C Treadwell, S T Finn

TV Tomorrow 6am-3pm Sky Sports 1

Odds: India 4-7 England 11-8

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