After the Twenty20 International hors de’oeuvres served up three delectable contests, one can only assume that the second course will be just as appetising as England and India line-up at Nottingham for the first of the three One-Day Internationals on Thursday (July 11).
Of course, the main course is the five-match Test series starting in August, but these three 50-over games give the sides an ideal platform to test their wares and bench strength before engaging in what is already the most hyped Test series this year.
The concluded T20I series, which India won 2-1, lived up to the hype as both sides fought tooth and nail despite having to manage a number of injuries. India, on the injury front at least, are without Jasprit Bumrah and the paceman’s absence will affect them, especially at the death.
They named Shardul Thakur as the replacement, but it’s more than likely that Umesh Yadav will complement Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the second paceman. Hardik Pandya could be played as the fifth bowler with Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav donning the role of lead spinners.
The batting department is far more sorted in the sense of balance with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma to open while Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, comes in at three. Given KL Rahul’s brilliance in the shortest format last week, it’s very likely that he will feature at No.4 – a position he was designated before being moved around inconsiderately. With Ajinkya Rahane left out of the format, there won’t be much resistance with the move to keep Rahul a standard at that position.
There is bound to be some experimentation with MS Dhoni’s position as the series progresses and it’s most likely to be moving slots with Pandya between No.5 and No.6. The battle for the sole batting slot then will be between Dinesh Karthik, Shreyas Iyer and Suresh Raina. While Iyer is the future and Karthik has done exceedingly well with his stray chances, Raina is most likely to feature since the southpaw has once again earned the trust of the management.
In all, India have a very settled look with plenty of options to cater to differing conditions. England aren’t too shabby themselves. As easily one of the most devastating ODI units in recent memory, England, their batting especially, wins most games before the other team has a crack at the score.
Teams (from): India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Siddarth Kaul, Umesh Yadav.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Mark Wood.
The freedom with which Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan, the England skipper, have played over the last few months is not only refreshing, it’s also quite intimidating. They have made it a habit of scoring upwards of 300 and their bowling, although not of immaculate quality, has done justice by defending these massive totals.
That being said, with the return of Ben Stokes there is reason to believe that they will do a better job at containing batsmen. If spin is the flavour of the day then they have Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali to go to. What’s better is that both of them are quite adept with the bat in hand.
India will be wary of England’s proficiency in the format having seen how the hosts decimated Australia 5-0 in the recently held series, but the visitors could reason against that fear with the knowledge that Tim Paine’s Australia were less than prepared for the English challenge.
India are the No.2 ranked ODI side in the world behind England, and a 3-0 win here can take them to the top. Not that rankings matter, but Kohli doesn’t like to leave a stone unturned. The Indian skipper, as we all know by now, is quite fond of challenges and will be raring to bring England to their knees. It won’t be easy to replicate the form they showcased during their 5-1 win in South Africa earlier this year, but they won’t fall short of trying.
Also, with the World Cup a little way away, the stakes are a bit higher than bolstering reputations at the moment.