"It's important to put breaks in the middle overs and Chahal and Kuldeep give us that wicket-taking option.” © BCCI

“It’s important to put breaks in the middle overs and Chahal and Kuldeep give us that wicket-taking option.” © BCCI

The last time England played a One-Day International at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, they smashed 481 for 6 against Australia, the highest ever total in the format. Eoin Morgan’s men will be back at the same venue on Thursday (July 12) to kick-start their three-match ODI series against India, memories of that game still afresh.

Given the way England have turned their white-ball game in the last three years, the expectations from the England-India series is for another high-scoring thriller. Rohit Sharma, the Indian vice-captain, predicted the same ahead of the first game, but stressed India wouldn’t approach any game with a predetermined score in mind.

“When you are playing on pitches like that, you want to bat second and this team likes chasing down targets. This team prefers to chase but toss is not in our control,” he explained. “We don’t go out and bat like we have to score 400 runs. We try to bat normally and see where we are at the end of 30 overs and then analyse what score we can put on. We have noticed that the last series they played here was filled with high-scoring games. On this very ground, they scored somewhere around 480 runs.

“I am expecting nothing less than another high-scoring series. As a team, it’s always nice to see the score in front of you and then see how you can bat. I am sure they will prefer the same. We have seen in the T20s, teams now like to chase. Every team has their own strategy. For us, we have been put into situation where we have to post a target and we have managed to defend it successfully afterward. We have chased down the target as well. For us it doesn’t matter, we just have to come out and play good cricket. England are a very good team and they have shown us how good they are. It’s not going to be easy for us to come out and snatch a win. We have to be at our best and hopefully, everything clicks together that will give us the result that we want.”

Rohit on Kuldeep:
“He is definitely a very attacking option anywhere we play. It was unfortunate that he missed out on the last game because it entirely depends on the captain and the coach, especially what the captain is comfortable with. Kuldeep gives us that attacking option in 50-over format as well. He will be bowling 10 overs and hopefully, he can extract some turn and bounce, and trouble the English batsmen, which he has done against South African batsmen in South Africa. Those middle overs are very crucial in terms of where the opposition go with their runs. It’s important to put brakes in the middle overs and Chahal and Kuldeep give us that wicket-taking option.”

The series is a short one, but assumes importance given the World Cup will be played in England and Wales next year.

“I think it’s very important since the World Cup is going to be played in this part of the world, exactly a year later,” Rohit said. “In terms of preparation, it’s going to be good for us to see where we stand as a team, in terms of our combination, and what sort of targets are going to be available for us. We have seen in the recent series where England played against Australia… quite a few high scoring games were played. It’s going to be crucial in that aspect to see where we are and what we need to do as a team moving forward. We have played some good ODI cricket in the last year or so, both in and out of India. This tour will bring another challenge to us and we will see where we stand as a team.

“We had a successful Champions Trophy last year except the final. As a team we’ve done well in English conditions in limited-overs cricket. We’ve responded well to situations, absorbed pressure. Those are the positives we’d like to do here as well. This English team will put us under pressure now and then. It’s about absorbing it and taking it to them. If we stick to our strategies and strengths, I don’t see any problems. As long as we focus as a group on what we need to do, we’ll be fine.”

One of the challenges for India will be to identify their best batting line-up, given KL Rahul has struck terrific form in recent times. Rahul fell out of favour with the selectors in the one-day format recently, but that could change given his current form in T20 cricket.

“I don’t know where he is going to bat in ODIs,” said Rohit. “He has been in great form, we have to see tomorrow where he bats. It’ll be at 3 or 4. I don’t know where captain wants to bat, that’s the most important question there. I think he is a quality player, he will make an impact wherever he bats. He’s looking forward to the opportunity because it has been a long time waiting for him. Also because he wants to make a comeback into the ODI team and make an impact.”