When England and India square off for the three-match venture later this year, one thing is guaranteed – entertainment. The two sides have been among the most ferocious limited-overs outfits for quite a while now. Interestingly, their rankings too suggest the same.
With the ICC’s Annual May 1 update taking effect, England were ranked as the No.1 one One-day International side. The Virat Kohli-led Men in Blue listed second on the charts.
Both these teams have had a similar track record in recent times, with their success rates standing out as compared to the other teams.
Recent form too has a similar story to depict for these units, as both the energetic sides come on the back of near perfect displays.
While England recently annihilated Australia 4-1 and New Zealand 3-2, both away from home, India too were dominant in South Africa, winning the series 5-1 and thereby creating history.
The two sides last clashed in early 2017 in a three-match affair in India, and wasn’t it a mind-boggling affair? The closely fought series witnessed totals in excess of 300 being breached with ease and ultimately it was the hosts who held their nerves to clinch the series 2-1.
Keeping an eye on the 2019 World Cup, India have named a really promising squad, with the core being more or less the same.
Consistent Indian Premier League performers like KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu have forged comebacks into the national colours. Highly-impressive Rayudu set to make his first appearance in nearly two years.
From the bowling front as well, deserving Punjab-based Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer Siddharth Kaul earned a well-deserved call-up.
One can feel for promising individuals like Ajinkya Rahane and Manish Pandey, but just the sheer form and charisma of Rahul and Rayudu was something too significant to overlook.
Keeping in mind the three-match series provides an ideal blueprint for the team in the run-up to the World Cup next year, below, we analyze the Indian ODI squad in depth.
India’s top three is probably the most glitzy order in world cricket right now. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have already etched themselves among the finest opening pairs the format has ever seen, with their numbers standing out clearly.
The pair has put on 3,368 runs together since the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy and has 12 century stands between them, along with 9 half-century stands. This means–the openers get India off to a solid start in excess of 50 every 3.67 innings.
Just when the bowlers are done breaking this stand, the next batsman walking in would be someone who has racked up centuries for utmost fun.
Kohli, on his very own, has completely changed the dynamics of batting in ODI’s. The Indian captain scored three effortless tons in the ODI series against South Africa, and a batting average slightly above 58, is just a proof of how remarkable his consistency is.
Sharma, Dhawan, and Kohli have been India’s spine with the bat for quite a few years now, and their run scoring spree remains absolutely unparalleled.
In a way, that has led to the team being utterly over dependent on them, but more often than not, the trio has seen India through in most games, be it while batting first or while chasing.
The table below shows the numbers for the three batsmen since the end of the 2015 ICC World Cup, and they alone tell the entire picture.
Against England too, it will be the responsibility of this elite top three, to get India off to colorful starts. If recent form is anything to go by, the England bowlers better watch out for this terrific trio.
Number four has been a rare blip for the side in the last few years now. A number of individuals have auditioned for the slot. But all in vain as no one has been able to cement the vital spot.
As of now, as many as three individuals are in the fray for that role with the nominations being KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Ambati Rayudu in particular.
While it was Ajinkya Rahane, who took the slot in South Africa, inconsistent displays saw him losing the spot. With three gifted batsmen in contention for that spot, it’s rather difficult to predict the perfect candidate.
Given his experience, Rayudu can certainly be an option but for how long with India overlook the elegant KL Rahul.
Rahul has been in red-hot form in this IPL and given his ability to accelerate from the very offset; he should ideally start from the first ODI.
It will be touch and go between the three and whoever individual gets the nod first, needs to make every single chance count.
The fifth position is certain to be that of the larger than life Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni too has struck form at the right time and has looked splendid in this edition of the IPL. His one weakness of struggling to the outside off-stump yorkers is nowhere to be seen as he has definitely ironed out that flaw.
In at number five, the role is tailor-made for Dhoni to finish the innings as it is bound to aid him in taking off after a solid base has been set.
For number six, one doesn’t need to look beyond Dinesh Karthik. Karthik has emerged as a reliable finisher in the last few months and his ability to hit from the very first ball.
The wicketkeeper-batter has given his game the much-needed spark. From the IPL front as well, Karthik has finished games for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) with a lot of ease and grace.
While Hardik Pandya selects himself on the basis of his reasonably impressive displays for India, the inclusion of the teenager Washington Sundar was a pleasant surprise.
Sundar has been a revelation for India in the few games, he has featured in, and the management’s backing of him for the ODI’s is a positive sign.
The promising prospect Sundar can surely be a backup spinner in the squad, in case Chahal or Kuldeep endure tough times.
For Hardik Pandya though, his batting still remains a work in progress against pace mainly.
From the bowling front, there has been a substantial improvement. The Baroda lad needs to maintain that, given the fact that he is expected to bowl ten overs in every game from now on.
Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were beyond fabulous on the otherwise unresponsive pitches of South Africa. The duo bagged 33 wickets across six games.
Middle overs often dictate the outcome of the game, and this is where these two crafty individuals top the charts as they outfox the opposing batsmen with style.
Against a batting heavy team like England, where they are likely to face the likes of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler in the middle overs.
Moreover, their performance becomes even more significant. If the two carry on their good work from South Africa, India in all probability will ace the series in England as well.
Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar select themselves on the basis of stellar performances since the last year.
Bumrah’s improvement with the new ball since the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final has been a heartening sight for all cricket fans. The Gujarat pacer has finally found ways to strike early right at the top.
The premium pacers remain India’s best bet at the death. Significantly, the years of practice in the IPL has finally shown the much-awaited results.
The inclusion of Umesh Yadav has been a fine move as well. So far, the speedster bagged 14 wickets in the IPL thus far.
Umar has been a rare positive sign for his franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). The brawny pacer has done well for India in his brief ODI career. The leading wicket-taker for the side in the 2015 ICC World Cup will be eager to leave a lasting impression.
The most exciting prospect though has been that of Siddharth Kaul. The Punjab pacer replaces Mohammad Shami in the ODI team and has earned a well-deserved call-up.
Kaul, apart from being near perfect at the top with his yorkers and knuckleballs. He can also use the reverse swing to a great effect. With his bowling style and he attributes a lot similar to that of Pakistan’s Hasan Ali. Kaul is a tremendous prospect for India in the time to follow.
As a whole, the squad seems the best possible one the selectors could have selected. At least nine of the individuals select themselves and against a top quality opposition, this is a positive factor.
In addition, the only worry remains as to the sixth bowling option. Much to our surprise, none of the middle or top order batsmen roll their arms over. This means that the five bowlers including Hardik Pandya, need to deliver their full quota of overs during each game.
An off day even for a single bowler could be disastrous. This is where the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will have to work on their bowling. To be precise, even a couple of overs from them could help the side in nutshell.
As a whole, this team is capable of beating any opposition. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Virat Kohli add another silverware to his tally, come the ODI series in England.
Likely XI for India:
1.R. Sharma, 2. S. Dhawan 3. V. Kohli ( c ) 4. KL Rahul 5. MS Dhoni (wk) 6. D. Karthik 7. H. Pandya 8. B. Kumar 9. K. Yadav 10. Y. Chahal 11. J. Bumrah