Kevin urged to show greater responsibility

Richard Hobson

Mohali: Kevin Pietersen may brush aside reports of an informal reprimand from the match referee after England's defeat in Ranchi, but criticism from Sourav Ganguly cannot be dismissed as lightly given his performances in the present one-day series.

Sourav said of Pietersen: "He baffles me in the shorter format. He struggles to pace his innings and that is why he has underperformed in one-day cricket."

By England's relatively modest standards, Pietersen has a strong overall record, averaging 42.26 at a strike-rate of 87.06 runs per hundred balls, but the implicit charge of trying to go too hard, too soon, resonates strongly after heavy defeats in Kochi and Ranchi.

England, 1-2 down, must win here on Wednesday to avoid losing the five-match series and that will be so much more difficult if Pietersen, one of two "gun" batsmen alongside Eoin Morgan, once again finds himself back in the pavilion before the end of the 15th over.

He was unlucky to be adjudged caught behind three days ago. A subsequent headshake before he left the crease brought a friendly warning from Andy Pycroft, the match referee, at Ranchi airport. But Pietersen was certainly culpable in the previous game when Bhuvneshwar Kumar punished his pre-meditated aggression.

Pietersen is capable of playing long innings. Before this series he scored hundreds in his each of his previous two one-day Internationals, against Pakistan in Dubai, before announcing his retirement from the format in May. This is his first 50-overs series since reversing that decision, and changes to the regulations in the meantime have made his potentially destructive presence later in the piece more important.

The bowling Powerplay, invariably taken between the 11th and 15th overs, has disappeared, removing the value of a hitter at the crease during that passage. The batting Powerplay remains, but the crucial tweak is the reduction from five to four fielders allowed outside the 30-metre ring when Powerplays are not in operation.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja showed what is possible by adding 82 in the last six overs in Kochi and Dhoni, India's designated finisher in all but name, was on course to win the first game at Rajkot when he forced Jade Dernbach to long-off with 55 needed from 35 balls.

One option for England is to promote Joe Root to the No. 3 position that Jonathan Trott would ordinarily fill, with Pietersen dropping to four. That would still achieve little unless Pietersen takes responsibility for being around late on, even if it means earlier cutting down on some of the risks he enjoys.

England have played down a scare when Steven Finn was hit on the right index finger during fielding drills and are confident that he will be able to bowl. Regardless of Finn's fitness, a scrubby outfield gives impetus to the idea that Stuart Meaker will be included in the hope of generating reverse swing.

The wicketkeeping position is also clearly a matter under discussion. On Monday, Ashley Giles, the limited-overs head coach, scrutinised Jos Buttler first-hand in the nets, throwing balls for Buttler to take standing up to the stumps with Huw Bevan, the muscular fitness instructor, acting as a batsman letting them through.