A file photo of the Indian team warming up at The Oval. (Getty Images)
Hove, Sussex: In hopes of bringing an end to their miserable campaign in England so far, Team India will don the blue in the practice game against Sussex here on Thursday and try to do justice to their World Champions' tag after losing the No. 1 rank in Test cricket to England.
India were whitewashed 0-4 by England and the team will expect the induction of youth in the shorter version to provide the spark that has went missing so far in the English summer. However, the management needs to make sure that the injured players prove their fitness before being entrusted with the job of guarding India's reputation in ODI cricket.
The 50-over game against Sussex on Thursday would be critical to assess if Praveen Kumar and Gautam Gambhir have recovered from their injuries.
Praveen missed the final Test at the Oval due to an ankle injury while Gambhir suffered a concussion making him a mere shadow of his formidable self in the two innings of the match.
Team India would find it difficult to live it down if a recently injured cricketer breaks down in the one-day series like Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag did in the Test matches.
As a result, India would like to throw as many youngsters as possible into the fray to assess their early form and confidence.
In all likelihood, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar would pull out to give a few younger batsmen the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the seaming and swinging conditions.
It would ensure that all four young batsmen of the side - Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma - lose little time in coming to grips with the testing conditions.
If skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also sits out - and the Indian captain does need a break - than Parthiv Patel would have a critical opportunity.
If this season has been the one to have marred reputations, it can also be one to make reputations. There ought to be scramble for ODI places among young batters as well as bowlers.
Munaf Patel, so far kept in cotton wool, would have an opportunity to show his utility after being discarded in favour of RP Singh in the final Test at Oval last week.
In all likelihood, India would like to test their bowling combination for the one-dayers and hence Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, R Ashwin and one between Vinay Kumar and young Varun Aaron should play.
They could have a good simulating situation to ODIs since Sussex boasts of some big names and the wicket at Hove is said to assist seam and swing.
Indian cricket fans would be familiar with the names of Murray Goodwin, Matt Prior, Monty Panesar and South African quick Wayne Parnell.
Michael Yardy, Ed Joyce and Luke Wright have all been England players. The two Pakistanis Naved-ul Hasan and Umar Gul need no introduction. In all likelihood, Sussex ought to field a good side.
With a whole lot of new faces - unaffected by the 4-0 whitewash of Tests - clamouring for places, Indians ought to start their campaign with a fresh mind.
(With PTI inputs)