The nine run loss in the Rajkot series opener must have been the wake-up call the Indian side needed. In the two games since MS Dhoni’s side have produced two near-perfect performances to decimate an experimental England side and snatch a 2-1 lead in the five match series.
The sides now head to Mohali with India in buoyant mood having twice skittled the tourists out for 150 on typically batsman friendly Indian pitches. Even part-time spinner Ravindra Jadeja has left the English batsmen perplexed with none of them mustering so much as a half-century in the back-to-back thrashings in Kochi and Ranchi.
England coach Ashley Giles hinted there would be changes to the line-up after the Ranchi performance, and it appears the first change will occur behind the stumps. Craig Kieswetter has struggled to contribute runs down the order so he will be replaced by his Somerset teammate Jos Buttler who has so far only played as a specialist batsmen in the one day side.
Jade Dernbach should be dropped after another abject performance in Ranchi saw him dispatched for 45 runs in his five overs – a series economy rate of 7.8 highlights how the Surrey seamer has struggled on this tour. Either Chris Woakes or Stuart Meaker are expected to deputise with Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs likely to be left carrying the drinks once again.
After two convincing wins with the same side it is unlikely that MS Dhoni or coach Duncan Fletcher will be considering changing a winning formula. One change that could be made is at the top of the order where they may consider bringing in rising star Cheteshwar Pujara at the expense of Ajinkya Rahane who has struggled so far this series.
England opener Ian Bell described the cold weather conditions in Mohali as “very English” when interviewed yesterday. These cooler conditions should suit the tourists with the new ball spells again crucial but the Mohali pitch will be a batsman friendly track so the team batting first must be eyeing a score in excess of 270 to be competitive.
You just can’t look past another Indian victory here (1.57) with the gulf in class and experience between the two teams obvious in the last two matches. A 4-1 Indian series win is also worth backing at 2.30. For the England top batsman market I am sticking with Kevin Pietersen to come good at 4.50, while for India big-hitting showman Yuvraj Singh is too big a price to ignore at 6.0.