Fletcher rules out sweeping ban

New Delhi, March 30:

England coach Duncan Fletcher on Thursday urged his batsmen to be careful using the sweep shot after his team’s defeat in the first one-dayer against India.

Fletcher refused to ban the shot, at the centre of England’s dramatic collapse this week, but said his players should use it more selectively in the second match on Friday.

“Sweep is a very effective shot against spinners in the sub-continent. It is just that we have got be more selective in using this shot,” he told reporters ahead of the second game in Faridabad.

Five England batsmen fell playing the sweep at the Kotla stadium on Tuesday when India snatched victory to take the lead in the seven-match series.

The tourists were strongly placed at 117-3 while chasing a modest 204-run target before losing last seven wickets for 47 runs.

Fletcher blamed inexperience rather than the sweep shot for the defeat. “We have a young side. There are five new players and there are some who are relatively experienced at the county level,” he said.

“Some of these players need to know how to adjust to certain conditions. The thing is what happened at Kotla could have happened in a final. We were vulnerable in one match, there are still six matches to go.”

Fletcher said he would name the playing 11 after a look at the Nahar Singh stadium wicket on Friday morning. England practised here on Thursday instead Faridabad.

India, meanwhile, were sweating over the fitness of key all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who missed Thursday’s practice with a viral fever. But captain Rahul Dravid was hopeful that Pathan would recover in time for the match.

“Irfan had a bit of fever and sore throat after the last game,” said Dravid. “We have only rested him as a precaution. Hopefully he should be fit.” Dravid said reining in middle-order batsmen Pietersen and Flintoff was key if India were to win the series.

“Flintoff and Pietersen have the power and strength to bat the way they do,” he said. “It is important to get them early. They have dominated not only our attack. They can be devastating against any bowling on their day. We have to accept that and respect that.”

“We have to keep trying different things and find a way to check them. In one-day cricket, there will be times when you get hit around the park a little bit,” Dravid added.