In the next two games the winter chill provided assistance and the Pakistan pacers excelled. In both these games, MS Dhoni's side were bowled out for less than 200. And though they bowled out Pakistan and recorded a consolation win in Delhi; again in extremely bowler-friendly conditions, once again the batsmen didn't do their reputation any good.
Poor form remains a concern as India prepare to play England in the first One-day International in this five-match series. Any worry that the Indian batsmen had about having to play in conditions helpful to the tall and strong England pacers would have evaporated as the wicket baked under the sun.
The nature of the wicket at Rajkot makes it a typical sub-continent track, which should make life easier for the batsmen.
In the Challenger Trophy played at this venue in October, 2263 runs were scored in four 50-over games. In five innings, 300 or more runs were scored with five centuries. In last Ranji Trophy game here Cheteshwar Pujara slammed unbeaten 203 against Madhya Pradesh while in the Mumbai vs Saurashtra game one double hundred and two centuries were made.
The Indian batsmen will have to take full advantage of the batting conditions as the team hopes to revive their form. Following their reverses to England in the Test series and Pakistan in the ODI series, the hosts will be hoping for a turnaround. England, with just one win in 16 ODI games here, should be beatable at least on paper.
But for this the collective confidence of the batsmen needs to return , not just in the nets but out in the middle.
The selectors have reacted by axing the out of form opener Virender Sehwag and the young Ajinkya Rahane, set to open, must take the opportunity sooner rather than later. Rahane's partner at the top Gambhir must play with an uncluttered mind and with intent if he is to overcome his tentativeness to deliveries on or moving away from the off-stump. Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh must make their outings count. However, the onus will be on the openers to give a good start which will in turn ease the pressure on the middle order and allow them to play freely.
Hopes from openers
Dhoni is hopeful that the new opening combination will click. "The openers have been scoring runs on and off but we have not been able to get a good partnership between them. One of them have been getting out. We are hoping to get start in this series," Dhoni explained. Steve Finn will be expected to lead the attack in the absence of James Anderson and Graeme Swann, rested as part of a rotation policy, Stuart Broad who is injured.
"We have got an inexperienced side, a few experienced players missing through injuries and rotational policy. It's quite similar to probably the squad that we had last time. So, it will be a real big test to us as players and real good test to these guys who have been around now a bit in international scene to try and step up," Cook who led the Test side to a historic win in Indian, said.
England have a new ODI coach in Ashley Giles who was part of the last team that returned from these shores without losing at ODI series. Under Naseer Hussain, England had won the final ODI in Mumbai to level 3-3 in 2002. Giles and Cook will now aim to equal if not better that feat. For that they must also hope that the Indian batting line-up don't find their collective form soon.
Live on star cricket at 12 pm