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India vs England: World Cup on Mind as Top ODI Guns Face-off in Three-match Series

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: July 11, 2018, 11:40 AM IST
India vs England: World Cup on Mind as Top ODI Guns Face-off in Three-match Series

India and England will clash in three ODIs. (AFP)

New Delhi: Having landed the first punch by clinching the T20I series, India move on to the next challenge of this English summer - a three-match ODI series starting on Thursday in Nottingham. On paper, it is a mouth-watering clash featuring the top two sides in the 50-over format as England is ranked no.1 with 126 rating points and India is ranked no.2 with 122 rating points. But, a look at the bigger picture and cricketers, pundits and fans know that Virat Kohli’s team will be the biggest threat to Eoin Morgan’s squad when they set out to host the 2019 World Cup in a year’s time.

Kohli has time and again made it clear in the last couple of series that every move that the team management tries out in the shortest formats of the game is with an eye on the showpiece event. And while the top three batsmen pick themselves — Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and skipper Kohli —the number four role has been unsettled of late with India having tried quite a few options in KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Manish Pandey.

For this series, while Pandey and Rahane have been left out, India do have the option of slotting the in-form Rahul in that position. Or, fall back on the tried and tested Suresh Raina.

Interestingly, Raina at no.4 has an average of 45 in 20 matches with the highest of 116*. In contrast, his career average is 35.46 with 5 hundreds. So clearly, Raina loves the opportunity of coming out with overs in the bag. If Raina manages to succeed at no.4 in the upcoming series, it could also open the door for Dinesh Karthik to come in at 5 if the management does decide to add an extra batsman as cushion.

The lower middle-order once again picks itself with Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni almost making themselves indispensable in the death overs. With Pandya showing scintillating form in the T20I series, the ODIs will give him more time to acclimatize for the World Cup.

The series will also provide the Indians an opportunity to check if their two wrist-spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, can be as damaging in English conditions as they were in South Africa earlier this year. India did leave Yadav out for the third T20I keeping the short boundaries in mind in Bristol and against a strong English batting line up, that scenario may occur again.

india eng record

Among the seamers, with Jasprit Bumrah missing due to injury, India will have a chance to look at their back up options. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s form has tapered off a bit but Umesh Yadav has been bowling with a fair bit of menace. Siddarth Kaul is also in the mix and would relish the opportunity to prove he is more than a T20 specialist.

For England too, the series will be an opportunity to test themselves against the best. Or as Sam Billings put it, a group of ‘very good players’. Having restructured their game after the dismal show in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the English side under Morgan has been on an upswing. And the recent 5-0 drubbing of Australia was once again proof of an improvement in the quality of players playing white-ball cricket for the Three Lions.

While Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have reposed the faith shown in them by the selectors, their captain Morgan has led from the front. The games against India will give them further opportunity to stamp their authority as the Australian team didn’t have the best bowling line-up with injuries to the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

In the bowling department also, England will look at getting the combination right and balance it out with the perfect combination of pace and spin. While Moeen Ali managed to spin a web over the Aussies, he can expect India’s batsmen to tackle him better after a mediocre T20 series. Adil Rashid will once again hold the key if he is picked as the sole spinner to back the likes of Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Jake Ball among others.

The three-match series gets underway on Thursday at Trent Bridge, but both teams know that this is their opportunity to set the ball rolling and tick the boxes when it comes to getting in place the perfect playing XI, going into next year’s World Cup.

India ODI Squad: Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Hardik Pandya, Siddarth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Suresh Raina, Umesh Yadav, Axar Patel.
England ODI Squad: Eoin Morgan(c), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Jake Ball, Sam Curran.

First Published: July 10, 2018, 3:46 PM IST

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1 India 5007 116
2 South Africa 4280 110
3 England 5310 108
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