GRAHAM Onions has swapped the television studio for the middle to pass another milestone in his comeback from career-threatening injury.
But the Gateshead-born fast bowler could arrive in India to find England have nothing to play for but pride.
Victory in Mohali today will see world champions India win the one-day series and move into a strong position to complete a clean sweep in the five-match series.
Onions replaces Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes, who has flown home with a thigh strain. It is his third international call-up this year, though his last appearance is still January 2010’s third Test in South Africa.
After that Onions was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back which kept him out until April this year. He took 50 County Championship wickets for Durham last season.
“India it is then. . . like a second home for me,” tweeted Onions, who will not join the squad until they arrive in Mumbai for the fourth match.
Onions played for England Lions in the 2008 Duleep Trophy, and has been on training camps in India. He was a Sky TV studio pundit for the first two games of the series, which India won.
England fielded the same side in both matches, but may recall Ian Bell today to rectify the batting failures which have been a feature. All-rounder Ravi Bopara is the most likely candidate to make way.
Onions was called up as injury cover for the fourth Test of England’s recent home series with India, but did not play. He was the unused member of a weakened one-day squad which travelled to Ireland for a low-key friendly in August.
A sneaky glance at the pitch, on his way to the nets this afternoon, brought an involuntary smile to Steve Finn’s face as he looks to cement his place among the world’s fastest bowlers, but he will not be sidetracked by the need for speed.
Finn spotted patches of green promising pace, bounce and even seam movement in an often arid country.
While the 22-year-old could not suppress a grin at mention of the surface, others – even his mum – have noticed he has suddenly become a 90mph-plus bowler. But the man himself knows other attributes are more important.
“A couple of people have come up to me and said, ‘Cor, you’re bowling at 94mph’. My mum rang me and said ‘You were bowling at 94mph yesterday’. It was great. But it’s not something that is occupying my mind. If I bowl at 94mph consistently, great.”
Finn knows direction and trajectory will always outweigh speed for him.
“It’s nothing I think about,” he said. “It’s nice being referenced in that bracket, but more important is where the ball goes. At what pace it does it is really irrelevant.
“It’s whether it goes in the right area and does the right things. If you do it at 94mph, brilliant.
“Speed is not something that’s occupying my mind. More important is what I do with the ball.”
The 6ft 7in bowler hopes there is still an extra gear to find. “It (his speed) has been pretty consistent for the last four or five games,” he said. “Every time I’ve bowled, people are saying ‘Is the speed gun broken?’ I’d hope it doesn’t lie. But I’m not doing anything different.
“I’m maturing as a bowler, so I think I might have a little bit more in the tank – you never know.”
Finn troubled both Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli early in Monday’s double-century stand, only to end up wicketless in Dehli.
“There’s not a lot more I could have done,” he said. “On another day, I might have had three or four wickets.
“We look to attack with the new ball. That’s the way we go about it, and I think we’ve done that quite well in the two games so far.
“We’ve created a few opportunities and could have been in far better positions in the first 10 overs than we have been.”
ENGLAND (from): AN Cook (Captain), C Kieswetter (wkt), IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, JM Bairstow, SR Patel, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, JW Dernbach, ST Finn, RS Bopara, SG Borthwick, SC Meaker.
India (from): MS Dhoni (Captain, wkt), P Patel, A Rahane, G Gambhir, V Kohli, S Raina, R Jadeja, P Kumar, R Ashwin, R Vinay Kumar, U Yadav, R Sharma, V Aaron, M Tiwary, S Aravind.
Umpires: B Bowden (NZ) and S Asnani (Ind).
Third umpire: S Ravi (Ind).
Match Referee: R Mahanama (SL).