An under-fire India will be hoping to get their act together in the virtual semifinal against a better-placed England in the final league match of the cricket tri-series, here tomorrow.
Lucky to share two points with Australia, who are awaiting their opponents in the final, in the washed off game in Sydney, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side will not only try to address its bowling worries but also try to pull up its batting socks.
Failing to register a win in the league stage so far, the Indian bowlers were unable to defend their 267 runs in their first match, while the team was shot for 153 in the second game against England.
All eyes were on Rohit Sharma’s fitness after the opener failed to take part in the last two ODIs post a fluent 138 in the team’s opener against the hosts but the team management is not looking to risk his strained hamstring so close to the World Cup.
After undergoing a fitness test at WACA yesterday, Rohit batted in the nets for a while today and did look comfortable. But surprisingly he is still unavailable for selection for this upcoming match.
Ajinkya Rahane has shown flexibility with the think-tank still tinkering with the team’s batting order as Ambati Rayudu looks uncomfortable at the number three position.
Shikhar Dhawan’s batting form has also contributed to India’s dismal showing in the ODIs as the left-handed opener has just managed 11 runs in three matches to give the team a big reason to worry before the World Cup.
Dhawan enjoyed a brilliant outing in the 2013 Champions Trophy in England, scoring back-to-back hundreds that helped him accumulate 363 runs in just five matches at an average of 90.75. He won the man-of-the-tournament award back then, but ever since it has been downhill.
The rest of the cast has also not been consistent and Virat Kohli is still trying to find his groove at the No.4 spot that the Indian think-tank seems to be settling him into.
Even after getting a slot f stick from the Australian batsmen in the Test matches and the Indian critics, the bowlers still continue to leak runs without picking many wickets.
With Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami still trying to find the right length all through the Australian summer, spinners Akshar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin find little help from the fast-paced tracks.
Ishant though is expected to be given a run-in again after missing out due to the weather in Sydney.
A bowling all-rounder is what India have been searching for and if Stuart Binny, who scored a valiant 44 and picked up the only wicket to fall in a losing cause against England, can deliver if picked in the XI then the Men in Blue will fancy their chances against Eoin Morgan and company.
England though also have had a patchy run in this tournament so far but have certainly looked much better than India on the field.
Getting a bonus point against Dhoni and company in the nine-wicket win in Brisbane has been their high-point so far as they lost both their ODIs against arch-rivals Australia.
With five points from three games, England certainly have the upper hand in the knockout game but WACA is always a different ball game for any visiting side.
Their bowling led by James Anderson has made the right noises before the 50-over showpiece event but the batting form of most of their top stars has been inconsistent.
Opener Ian Bell though tops the run-scorers list in this series so far, with 229 runs from three matches – a ton and a half-century.
All-rounder Moeen Ali provides England with not only a good opening batting option but also gives them the vital breakthroughs with his wily off-spinners.
So going by the performances so far, England do start as favourites in the upcoming clash but India have a golden chance to reverse the trend this weekend and re-start their World Cup campaign on a more positive note.
India: MS Dhoni (c & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Stuart Binny, Akshar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohit Sharma.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Joe Root, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.
Match starts – 8.50 AM IST.