England have to combat India as well as history at mohali today
If facing a do-or-die position in the five-match series against India wasn't enough to pull their act together, England will enter today's third one-day international knowing that they have never played a limited-overs game here at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium. Not to forget the constant reminders from the English media that they have registered only one victory in their last 15 ODIs in India (against India) -- and none since April 2006.
Time to ponder: Kevin Pietersen (left) and Craig Kieswetter during a
net session in Mohali yesterday. PIC/getty images
Furthermore, England have lost two out of three Tests they have played here, with only three members of the current touring side -- skipper Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen -- playing the 2006 Test that India won by a comfortable 9-wicket margin.
Ravindra Jadeja prepares to bat during practice yesterday. Pic/AFP
Those numbers are unlikely to provide any optimism for the visitors. However, the only thing they will take heart from, is the fact that unlike in Hyderabad, where the bounce became erratic as the match progressed, and in Delhi where the evening dew didn't help their bowlers, the pitch here will remain true as was demonstrated by South Africa when they posted 351 against Netherlands during the World Cup earlier this year.
Even the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan provided a good strip for the batsmen.
"It is a typical Mohali track. There is grass on it which we have deliberately kept but the wicket will look completely different tomorrow," PCA curator Daljit Singh said yesterday. "The thinner the grass, the faster the ball will come to the bat. But from now onwards the cracks will open up and the pitch will become much whiter and dryer. It is a typical wicket, a good batting track," he added.
However, he did admit that dew might play a major role tonight, putting the onus on the skippers to call right at the toss. "The dew factor will definitely be there but we are trying to minimise it. We are using ASPA-80 spray to negate the dew factor," he insisted.
Meanwhile, India have a celebrated history in ODIs at Mohali -- having won six of their ten games at the venue since 1993. The odds are indeed stacked in favour of the hosts clinching the series with an unassailable 3-0 lead when they leave for Mumbai.