x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Kumar and Dhawan have led the way for India this Champions Trophy

India's form in all departments of the game have raised expectations for MS Dhoni's side to do well one more time in England's cold conditions.

India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar has found the conditions to his liking for swing bowling. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo
India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar has found the conditions to his liking for swing bowling. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo

BIRMINGHAM // India's form in all departments of the game have raised expectations for MS Dhoni's side to do well one more time in England's cold conditions, a place the world champions once struggled.

Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have piled up 500 runs between them in the four successive victories, a contrast to their troubles two years ago when James Anderson's swing ensured a tour whitewash.

Less than two months later, however, they beat England 5-0 in a one-day series in India and have since beaten them again at the start of this year. It is form which leaves room for cautious optimism for both teams today.

"England are a very good team, especially the bowlers," said Dhoni. "Our top order have done well and played some of the best bowlers in world cricket so far in the tournament. So I think they are quite well-prepared for the English bowlers."

India's other strength has been more of a surprise. Seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma have excelled.

Kumar, in particular, will be pleased the final is being played at Edgbaston where he has found the ball swinging a lot more than at the other two venues - Cardiff and The Oval.

"I enjoyed playing here because the ball swung and seamed a lot," Kumar said after the win over Pakistan where his two for 19 from eight overs earned him the man-of-the-match award. "It's good when you pitch the ball up and it swings. That helps to take initial wickets and put the opposition under pressure."

His wickets and economy rate of 3.68 runs per over have been instrumental in piling on the pressure where Sharma and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja have thrived as top-wicket-takers.

Dhoni is also hoping the spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja, can have an impact, too.

"I think it's very important that they hunt in pairs," he said. "When Jadeja puts the pressure on, Ashwin gets the wicket; when Ashwin puts the pressure, Jadeja gets the wicket. Both of them are crucial for each other's success and for the success of the team."

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