After a resurgent series win last month that saw them conquering the top spot in the test rankings, team India will look to replicate their success against rivals England when they meet on Sunday for the first of three ODIs.
With Mahendra Singh Dhoni giving up his role as captain of the limited overs side, the impetus shall be on Virat Kohli to see through this phase of transition. For the English side though, who were beaten comprehensively in the longer format, it will be about battling the spin demons in their head if they are to fare any better in the shorter formats.
Sportwalk takes a closer look at both teams ahead of the much awaited encounter.
Last 12 Months:
11 Wins, 5 Losses, 1 Tie/NR
The statistics present a slightly misleading picture of England’s form in the limited overs considering the fact that, of their eleven ODI wins in the last twelve months, five came against Bangladesh and a struggling Sri Lankan side. Against South Africa, they lost 3-2 in a five match series.
The batting wears a rather settled look with five of their top batsmen averaging over 40 and four of them possessing a strike-rate of over 100. While Captain Eoin Morgan does not have much to show from his recent performances, it would be interesting to see if he can lift the morale of his side and lead from the front. Bairstow and Moeen Ali were among the few English batsmen who looked comfortable against spin, and a similar performance could be expected from these two if the top order threatens to collapse.
England’s bowling line-up in the limited overs poses a very serious question: what happened to a country that produced world class fast bowlers at will? With Anderson and Broad not playing, a lot shall depend on Chris Woakes, being the most experienced among the pace bowlers. Woakes will possibly share the new ball with young David Willey, who has the uncanny ability to make early inroads. But Adil Rashid will have his task cut out after a wonderful 2016 saw him become England’s leading spinner.
Ben Stokes had a wonderful year, both with the bat and the ball with many legends lauding him as one of the best all-rounders of this generation. His performance in the test series too, showed how much balance he provides to this team. If England is able to put up a comeback, Stokes would certainly need to make an impact.
Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan(c), Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes
Last 12 Months:
7 Wins, 5 Losses
While they only ended up playing a total of 12 ODIs in the last twelve months, lately, they have struggled to find the right combination in this format. Dhoni, who was once known for his tactical brilliance and finishing abilities in the One Day Internationals, has found himself being in the midst of death over blunders far too often. Of the 7 wins that they got, a hapless Zimbabwe side handed them three. They lost the series in Australia and narrowly escaped against New Zealand, eventually winning 3-2.
While the batting looks solid based on individual performances, they have failed to pack a punch as a collective unit and the middle order has been found wanting with none except Kohli doing the job with any consistency. The opening, however, looks settled even in the absence of Rohit Sharma who is out with an injury. Lokesh Rahul, who narrowly missed his double hundred against England in the final test, is expected to open with Dhawan.
Yuvraj Singh, who will be making a comeback to the side after some stellar performances in the Ranji Trophy, played a brilliant knock in the practice match and is expected to fill the role of a finisher as Dhoni comes up the order. Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav are expected to fight it out for the 6th spot and may also put Rahane on his heels, considering that his performances in the shorter format have begun to put a question mark over his selection.
Curiously, the department that used to be India’s weak link in the yesteryears now boasts of a new found zeal to become the best. With youngsters like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah putting their hands up every time their team has needed them to, and consistently improving with each performance, things look rather settled for the pace attack. And with Ashwin looking in top form, England’s batsmen will have a job on their hands.
Ravindra Jadeja is a player you just cannot rule out, when you are playing in conditions that aid the spinners. His bowling may lack the bite on a green turf but the accuracy with which he bowls gives a lot of freedom to any captain that he plays under. As he showed in the test series, he acts as the perfect foil to Ashwin and can even give the team that cushion of a few extra runs in the end with his pinch hitting ability. Add to that his agility in the field, and you get a player any team in the world would love to have!
Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), MS Dhoni, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav
WHO HOLDS THE EDGE?
With two evenly matched teams pitted against each other, the outcome of the series will depend on who capitalizes on the right moments and puts the opposition on the backfoot. Though England has a strong lower order with Woakes, Plunkett and Rashid being able enough to bat, the Indians hold the edge with a weak English bowling up against them. An early win in the three match series could be decisive.