'We play spin horrifically' – Swann fears for England in India ODIs

Jos Buttler

India v England one-day international series
Venues: Pune, Cuttack and Kolkata Dates: 15, 19 & 22 January
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

England’s batsmen will continue to fail in India if they persist in playing slow bowling “horrifically”, says their former off-spinner Graeme Swann.

The tourists face three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches after a 4-0 Test series defeat.

The batting line-up for Sunday’s first ODI in Pune is expected to be Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler.

“There’s a couple of wickets there for the spinners,” said Swann.

“We play spin horrifically on the whole.”

The tourists, who are without a one-day international series victory in India since 1984, have won one and lost one of their warm-up matches against India A – the defeat coming after they slipped from 116-1 to 165-6 when batting first in Mumbai.

Bairstow top-scored with 64 in that second match and he disputes Swann’s assertion that England will struggle with the bat.

“Everyone has different methods for batting against seam and spin,” said the Yorkshire wicketkeeper. “We scored a lot of runs in the Test series – posting 500 once and 400 twice.

“And in these warm-ups we’ve scored around 300 in both matches despite the collapses, so I don’t think we’re far off to be honest.”

Swann, speaking to BBC Test Match Special, did exempt Bairstow and Root from his criticism while conceding that a limited-overs tour of India is one of the hardest assignments in world cricket.

“It’s not a very pleasant experience,” said the 37-year-old. “I don’t think I ever won there.

“The teams I played in were clueless in how to cope with the noise, the intensity, the armed guards.

“I remember being on the tour that ended because of the attacks in Mumbai. In a weird way, it was a relief that we could go home – we were getting hammered left, right and centre.

“The crowds definitely play a part – you can’t hear yourself think for three and a half hours. It envelops you.

“When you get back into the changing room – it’s like a day spa. There’s total silence.”

Unburdened Dhoni is ‘best finisher’ in the world

India will be led by star batsman Virat Kohli, who replaces World Cup-winning captain MS Dhoni, in the three-match ODI series which also includes matches in Cuttack (19 January) and Kolkata (22 January).

Dhoni will, however, remain in the team as a wicketkeeper-batsman, with the 35-year-old warming up for the challenge with an unbeaten 68 off 40 balls for India A in England’s first warm-up game earlier in the week.

Only Dhoni’s fellow Indians Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh and Australia’s Dean Jones have a better one-day average in home conditions against England than him.

“You could sense experience dripping off MS Dhoni,” said Swann. “He’d never panic, even when the required rate reached eight or nine an over.

“He’d just smack 20 off an over without breaking sweat.

“Over there, the grounds are tiny and the outfields are rapid. What we construed as being a big score – 270 or 280 – they’d just knock off in no time whatsoever.

“Virat Kohli was born to play ODI cricket and MS Dhoni is the best finisher I’ve ever seen.”

MS Dhoni, right, was recently the subject of a Bollywood biopic in which his life was portrayed by Sushanth Singh Rajput, left<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

England no longer one-day dinosuars

While Swann is fearful of another series defeat for England, he is glad to see the fresh outlook that has been adopted under captain Morgan.

Swann, who played at the 2011 World Cup, says he belonged to a “dinosaur” age of one-day cricket in England and says the team were “backward in their thinking” and “arrogant”.

It is only since a chastening early exit at the 2015 World Cup that England have adopted a more positive gameplan that has seen them twice pass 400 in 50 overs.

“They’ve finally got all the youngsters playing who think nothing is impossible,” said Swann.

“The likes of Ben Stokes, Jason Roy and Alex Hales have never thought 280 was a good score. They happily think 400 is gettable.

“They also have a coach who encourages aggressive cricket.”

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