The India England white-ball series has always been about catching up and overcoming the opposition with some quality performances. Throughout the T20I series, the two teams kept coming back at each other at various moments. The same seemed to reciprocate in the ODI Series as after an impressive fightback from the Indians in the first game, England rallied to complete their unfinished business with a colossal run-chase. With the ODI series well in balance, it is now time for the two teams to battle it out in the decider at Pune on Sunday.
“Both these teams have very watchable batting line-ups, but there is an intriguing difference between them. While India play to get a par score most times, England look to go above par every time. They (India) see the game so differently. In contrast, England’s approach is to see each of those allotted 50 overs as an opportunity to score.”
The Pune wicket has shown no signs of relaxation to the bowlers. The flat deck in the past two games has witnessed more than 600 runs being scored each day, with only a little for the bowlers. The spinners especially have not enjoyed the wicket at all and going into the decider, both teams could potentially tweak their bowling lineups a bit. With conditions, conducive to strokeplay and with both teams packed with power-hitters, another high-scoring high-intensity thriller awaits us.
India will look to pack a punch with the bat in the middle overs:
There’s only little that the Indian setup has done wrong in the two ODIs. They have been lethal with the bat in the death overs and have finished well with more than 100 scored in the last 10 overs each time. However, the only problem with the Indian batting has been their approach at the top and in the middle overs. The Indian batsmen have seemed to wait till the 25th over before pressing on the accelerator. The onus is on the Indian top-order comprising of Dhawan, Rohit, and Kohli to get India to that brisk start as the English openers have in the two run-chases. It is also imperative for one of those three to score big hundreds, put pressure on the England bowlers right from the word go, and thereby set up the game for the Indian middle order to finish like they have.
The Indian bowling on the other hand could see a major revamp, beginning with the spin bowlers. With Hardik Pandya not bowling, the importance of Krunal Pandya, the bowler increases manifold alongside Kuldeep Yadav. But both the Indian spinners have failed terribly giving away too many runs and not picking any wickets. In the two games played, the duo combined has picked only a solitary wicket giving away runs at more than 8 per over. For India to bounce back, India would need to address this concern as soon as possible. The leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and all-rounder Washington Sundar could get some game-time in the decider. Pacers Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Prasidh Krishna are likely to retain their place.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya/Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna
England would be hoping to keep the momentum into the decider:
Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been in tremendous form in the first two games of the series. Their century partnership has tested the Indian bowlers to bits, making it look extremely easy and effortless. Bairstow who missed the century in the first game reached there in the second, and Roy in his own element helped England get a good start both times. The difference between the English loss and win in the two games was the form of their new No.3 Ben Stokes. After getting used to the pitch in the first half of the winnings, Stokes unleashed himself against the English spinners scoring 49 of just 13 deliveries in the middle overs. Not only did he make the equation much more convenient to attain, but also destroyed the confidence and the rhythm of the Indian spinners. He made the boundaries seem irrelevant and the sixes effortless. His combination with Bairstow was one of the best England had ever seen.
The English side will also be pleased to see Livingstone judging the conditions right from his debut. The replacement for Morgan, having had a fair go in the second game would play a pivotal role with the bat in the middle order with Malan. One other thing that the visitors need to be careful about is to get the bowling combination rightly, especially at the death. The England bowlers have gone at 10-12+ runs an over in the last 10. Wood’s availability could also play a major role in deciding the final team structure for the decider.