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More blues await England at Green Park

Last updated on: November 19, 2008 18:16 IST

England, its tail tucked between the legs after the twin mauling in Rajkot and Indore, will have to find a way to stop India's in-form batsmen from launching another assault when the teams meet in the third One-Day International in Kanpur on Thursday.

With pitch curator Shiv Kumar predicting a bowlers' bloodbath, England's bowlers have their task cut out when they mark their run-up against India's awe-inspiring batting order. A defeat will leave them with the improbable task of winning the remaining four matches to win the series.

It was not merely the margin of defeat, but the manner of it that exposed England's lack of resources in all three departments; Pietersen and party were simply clueless how to silence Yuvraj Singh's booming blade.

Eight years in the business and still not a certainty in the Test squad, Yuvraj unleashed pent-up frustration with some power-hitting. In two matches, he proved he could be swashbuckling and sublime as well. His 78-ball 138 in Rajkot was pure aggression, but the hundred in Indore, on a two-paced track, must rank even higher, because of its influence on the outcome of the match.

Spread-eagled by Yuvraj's blazing blade, Stuart Broad and his bowling colleagues can only hope for the law of averages to catch up with the England bugbear on Thursday.

Thus far, India have kept things simple: raise a mountain of runs and bury England under it. The English bowlers bled 679 runs in just two matches -- 372 of it in fours and sixes -- failing to bowl out the hosts even once.

Not that Yuvraj alone milked the English attack dry. Gautam Gambhir's back-to-back fifties got overshadowed by Yuvraj's successive tons, but the pint-sized powerhouse has been in terrific form of late and does not look in a mood to relax. Along with Yuvraj, he raised those 134 runs that steadied India's rocking boat in Indore after England had reduced the hosts to 29 for 3 to give themselves the best chance in the series so far.

And if Virender Sehwag has his way, life will surely be difficult for the English bowlers, who simply lack the sting or firepower to reign in him.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni had long ago shed the reckless reveller's tag and is more of a crisis man these days. And having a long-hitter like Yousuf Pathan only eases the pressure on the India skipper. That Pathan can use the long handle with lethal effect was on ample display in the Indian Premier League. Having been at the receiving end of his pyrotechnics in Indore, the visitors will be at their wit's end, wondering how to straitjacket the towering Indian.

In the bowling department too, India's embarrassment of riches contrasts England's thin resources, both in the spin and pace segments.

For India, Zaheer Khan was both probing and poaching, while Munaf Patel difficult to score off. R P Singh did go for a few runs but India's spin attack, especially the part-timers, have more than compensated for that.

Interestingly, Harbhajan Singh had a very limited role in the series so far while the part-timers made merry. In fact, in Indore, Yuvraj, Sehwag and Pathan shared as many as eight wickets among them.

Overall, the series so far has been a lop-sided affair, with India treating England with utter disdain. Though Pietersen and his teammates are hoping to be third time lucky, they will have to conjure up an extraordinary show on the morrow to halt the Team India juggernaut.

Teams (from):

India: M S Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, R P Singh and Murali Vijay.

England: Kevin Pietersen (C), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright and Tim Ambrose.

Umpires: Amish Saheba, Russell Tiffin

Third umpire: Suresh Shastri

Match referee: Roshan Mahanama

Hours of play (IST): 0900 to 1230, 1315 to 1645.