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07th-Sep-2014

India's World Cup preps underway with series win in England

By Agency

India will return home from England with the ODI trophy, though the more desired one slipped badly out of their hands in the Test series. But given the World Cup is less than six months away, it's a consolation that should do the much-needed good to the flagging spirits of the world champions.
After a 3-1 loss in the Test series, India inflicted an ODI series defeat on England with the same margin. While the feat is by no means a leveller, India showed they are battle-ready to defend their ODI crown, which should gladden a few hearts back home.
Other than being a World Cup boost, the win also erased unhappy memories of winless bilateral ODI series in South Africa and New Zealand, which had raised questions whether India's inability to win overseas has extended from Tests to limited-overs cricket.
But MS Dhoni's team answered in style, taking an unbeateable 3-0 before losing the final game at Leeds on Friday. En route, Dhoni became the most successful leader for India in ODIs, overtaking Mohammad Azharuddin's mark of 90 wins.
The batsmen, who were found out by English bowlers in Tests, came out blazing in coloured clothes - highlighted by centuries from Man-of-the-Series Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane, who was the series' top-scorer with 192 runs and showed he can play the role of a floater in the team - from No. 1 to 6.
Shikhar Dhawan reminded of his promise with a blistering 97* in Birmingham, while Ambati Rayudu's two half-centuries raised hopes of increasing India's options for the 2015 World Cup.
But the tour has turned out to be the most wretched one in Virat Kohli's career. His disappointment in the Test series found no solace in ODIs, where scores of 0, 40, 1* and 13 did no justice to the reputation Kohli has built for himself with 19 hundreds in 138 ODIs.
Among bowlers, Mohammad Shami came out of the Test disappointment to top the bowling charts with 8 wickets, followed by spinners Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin with 7 each. Jadeja also consolidated his position as the crucial allrounder at No. 7 with a quickfire 87 in the fifth ODI, though it went in vain chasing a stiff target of 295.
However, India's refusal to test wicktkeeper batsman Sanju Samson and legspinner Karn Sharma despite winning the series with a game to spare was a bit disappointing since there aren't many opportunities to do that now ahead of the tour of Australia.
But India will have to look after their pacers very well since the options are limited. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is overworked and looks to be in need of a break, while Umesh Yadav needs the opposite having been in and out of the team. Dhawal Kulkarni and Mohit Sharma don't ring a bell when it comes to international standards. Ishant Sharma will replace one of them, but India will have to find two more options for the World Cup.
Overall, the series turned out pretty well for the visitors but they would have liked to tick a few more boxes than they did.