Virat Kohli and his troops will look to continue their T20I form into ODIs as India lock horns against England in the first of their three-matches in Nottingham on Thursday.While there is a trophy on the line, the series is being seen as the curtain-raiser for the World Cup in England next year. Moreover, the top spot in the ICC ODI rankings is also at stake with England currently in top spot with India close behind in second. A 3-0 outcome will mean India can knock England off their pedestal but that will take some doing against the team that has redefined the ODI template in recent years. Eoin Morgan’s team is in fact coming off a 5-0 blanking of Australia.
England’s rapid rise since the ruins of the 2015 World Cup has been built on the strength of their batting and expect the conditions in Nottingham to provide yet another run-fest. Just recently, England’s power-packed batting line-up of England set the new world record of highest team total in ODIs when they smashed a hapless Australian bowling attack for 481/6 here. In List A matches, five 400+ scores have been hit at this venue and England have done so twice in international cricket here.
For India, the make-up of their playing XI will be their main concern. KL Rahul’s stunning gives them a happy headache and if India follow the T20 template, it will be a demotion for Kohli to number four.
However, India will consider that move carefully as Kohli has an outstanding record while batting at number three but things not so different at four either. He has scored 7,495 runs at an astonishing average of 61.43 at and made 28 out of his 35 ODI tons while batting at this position. While at number four, Kohli has scored 1,744 runs at an average of 58.1 in 37 innings including seven centuries. Suresh Raina is likely to win the nod for a return to the middle order ahead of Shreyas Iyer and Dinesh Karthik, as much for providing a sixth bowling option as his batting.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar — who is nursing a back problem — is not a certain starter for this game which will leave Umesh Yadav with the job of leading the pace attack. Spin twins Kuldeep Yadav (39 wickets in 20 ODIs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (43 wickets in 23 ODIs) will hold the key after their heroics since they were introduced to the team after last year’s Champions Trophy. Since then, India have played 27 ODIs (home and away) and at least one wrist spinner has featured in all these games.
England’s batting strength with powerful ball strikers such as Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes in the mix will present a formidable challenge to the Indian attack. Since 2016, the English batsmen have raked up most number of runs when it comes to the 50-over format — 14,297 (1,533 runs more than the second highest team). Moreover, they are the only team who have managed to achieve a strike rate of 100+ during this period, a feat that even the Galactico batsmen of India haven’t managed.
Since the disastrous 2015 World Cup, England have won 46 out of 69 ODIs and their last bilateral series’ defeat came in India in January 2017. The stage is set for a mouth-watering opener.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Jake Ball, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Mark Wood.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Iyer, Siddarth Kaul, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
First Published: July 11, 2018, 5:24 PM IST