India may have eased their way to a 4-0 win in the Tests against England. But, that doesn’t make them favourites to win the ODIs by any sense. India’s ODI form has been way poor compared to their Test fortunes in recent times. In their last series, they beat New Zealand by a narrow 3-2 margin. Before that, they were undone by Australia and South Africa 4-1 each, away and at home respectively. England, on the other hand, have emerged as one of the strongest sides in one-dayers since their debacle at the 2015 World Cup, so they will be highly confident.
India wear a completely different look for the England series, as opposed to the one that took on New Zealand, and we are not talking just about the jersey. A lot has happened in recent times, most significantly MS Dhoni stepping down as limited overs skipper, and Virat Kohli taking over in all formats. The team selection too sprung up a few surprises, with Yuvraj Singh being recalled. Kohli may have done excellently in Tests, but ODIs will present a different challenge, as also the fact that Dhoni will be playing under him after leading him for all these years.
India will have to work hard on their team combination. Shikhar Dhawan has returned to the squad following injury. But, there are a total of three candidates for the opening slot, with Ajinkya Rahane and Lokesh Rahul also in the picture. One of three will have to sit out. On past performances, Dhawan should get his place back. But, while Rahane’s ODI record is poor, he got runs in the warm-up. At the same time, Rahul made a sensational start to his one-day career with a hundred on debut, so it would be difficult to ignore him too.
In recent times, Dhoni has batted at number four, so that slot could remain with him. As for comeback man Yuvraj, he is likely to bat behind him, and should replace Manish Pandey at the position. The 35-year-old’s slow left-arm spin also gives him an edge over Pandey. In the bowling too, there are some tough decision to make. With Kedar Jadhav doing well against New Zealand, he is likely to be retained. But, while Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are back, can India afford to drop Amit Mishra, who claimed five wickets in India’s last ODI?
England have a strong batting line up that will challenge the Indian bowlers. Jason Roy tasted success in India in the World T20 last year, and while Alex Hales doesn’t have a great record against India, he has looked good in the warm-ups. Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan form a formidable middle-order, although the skipper hasn’t been among the runs lately. But, it is the glut of all-rounders that give England a definite edge. Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes and David Willey can all win games with bat and ball. It remains to be seen whether the spin of Adil Rashid proves to be a threat to India in ODIs.
--By A Cricket Analyst