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Champions Trophy - India v England: First Thoughts

Finally, some real (meaningful even?) cricket. Team India seems to be persisting with the 5 bowler theory. Although, on current form one would inclined to class Pathan as more of a batsman than a bowling all-rounder. Either way, Rahul Dravid has opted to field first and the Indians have benched Kaif, Mongia and RP Singh.

I see what the Indians are trying to do. If Pathan is going to stay with the squad he should be playing. Sitting in the dressing room, with no part to play in the match, is not going to do the kid any good. He needs some miles in his legs and some luck too. I hope our born-again Ajit Agarkar and Munaf Patel continue their blossoming new ball partnership. It was slightly disturbing to hear murmurs from Munaf about something to do with cutting down pace to concentrate on line and length. All fair and well in theory, but I sincerely hope he tries to fuse the two facets of his bowling armory, instead of overtly neglecting one.

What can you say about the spinners? I really rate Ramesh Powar and expect him, in collaboration with Chief Destroyer Harbhajan Singh, to tie the English batsmen in knots.

I have no qualms with the batting lineup. I'm glad they've played Suresh Raina over Dinesh Mongia and Mohammad Kaif. Apart from a few innings in the West Indies, Kaif has not shown much to remain in the team, for mine. I'll be interested to see the kind of form Virender Sehwag brings into this game. By his own account, the sessions with Rudi Webster have done him a world of good. I sure as hell hope he's right.

After the Challenger Trophy, most of the Indian batsman have had some good time in the middle. Cricinfo reports that the pitch looks full of runs. I hope they can cash in. Worthy contributions from all the batsman towards a winning chase would be what I am looking for from this match. There's nothing like a solid team performance to start a multi-team tournament such as this. Idea being, not to peak too early.

It would be stating the bleeding obvious to say that England are likely to put up more a fight than they did on their last tour to India. The come-from-behind win in the Pakistan series should have steeled them for better performances. However, once again they are playing under a new captain and a re-jigged batting order. The jury is out on exactly what effect that will have on the visitors.

Time now to sit back and enjoy the real action. I'm off to watch the game. About time I say, too.

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