India needs to rethink its batting approach and spin combination if it wants to master England.
The Test series was alive, albeit technically, until the last match. The T20I series went to a decider. Thanks to Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes’ exploits in game two, the ODI series, too, will have a mouthwatering finale here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday.
India will be keen to recover from the hammering and register a sweep across formats. England, on the other hand, will want to justify its world champion status and also ensure that the tour ends with at least one of the three trophies it aspired to win when it arrived on these shores in January.
If England’s top-order — the in-form opening pair of Jason Roy and Bairstow followed by the swashbuckling Stokes at No. 3 — continues to fire, India will be under immense pressure.
The tourists will hope that Mark Wood, rested on Friday, takes the field come Sunday. Left-armer Reece Topley, after impressing in the second ODI, could form a potent new-ball combination with Wood; Tom Curran could possibly miss out.
In the other camp, India has major concerns with its spin department. In the two games, Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya have conceded a whopping 283 runs off 35 overs combined, picking up just one wicket. As a result, the pace trio has been put under the pump.
It will therefore be interesting to see whether Yuzvendra Chahal or Washington Sundar, or both, feature in the decider.
Kuldeep has appeared woefully short of confidence, and in a crunch game, Chahal’s knack of picking up wickets during the middle overs may prove handy. And despite Krunal’s innings-changing fifty on debut, he has been largely insipid with the ball on the flat pitches here. Could Washington be preferred since he takes the ball away from the left-handers?
As for the batting, given England’s swash-bang-clobber approach, India will have to modify its conventional blueprint of building an innings, especially if it bats first again.
To put the England batsmen under pressure, India will have to optimise the middle overs by taking calculated chances with just four fielders allowed on the boundary, instead of milking the bowling and shifting gears only towards the end.
If India doesn’t switch gears in time, it might just watch its home season end on an unwanted note.
The teams (from):
India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma (Vice-capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), K.L. Rahul (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, T. Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur.
England: Jos Buttler (Capt. & wk), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Sam Billings (wk), Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley and Mark Wood.
Match starts at 1.30 p.m.
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