Pune: India and England will lock horns in the third and final One-Day International (ODI) which will decide the winner of the ongoing three-match series here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday.
After India had won the first match by 66 runs, defending 317 runs, England came back into the series hammering the hosts by six wickets in the second match on Friday. They chased the 337-run target in the 44th over.
While the Indian bowlers excelled in the first game as they ran through the English middle-order, they looked easy meat in the second game on Friday.
Spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya, who were the fourth and fifth bowlers for India, were a let-down, going for 156 runs in their 16 overs. In comparison, England’s spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were much better.
India could rest Chinaman Kuldeep and replace him with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been Kohli’s other trumpcard spinner in the ODI set-up. Chahal was not picked in the playing XI for the last two T20Is and the first ODI after he conceded quite a few runs in the initial games of the T20 series.
The pacers have performed well but they have not been effective with the new ball in both the games.
England openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have been allowed to set up century stands in both the one-dayers, showing Indian bowlers’ weakness in their ability to exploit the new ball.
Newcomer M. Prasidh Krishna admitted that they need to take early wickets.
“Personally I would like to start better. I would like to improve on how I have been starting, bowling with the new ball,” he said.
Allowing a good start to the England openers can be dangerous considering the visitors have a power-packed batting line-up. In fact, their strength in ODIs in recent times has been their batting.
Apart from the openers, the Indians also need to be wary of Ben Stokes who was in a murderous mood in Friday’s match, batting at No. 3. The left-hander clobbered a 52-ball 99 to take the game away from India.
The home team’s batting has, however, looked good with K.L. Rahul coming good in the middle-order and Shreyas Iyer’s replacement in the second ODI, Rishabh Pant scoring a swashbuckling 77 off 40 deliveries.
Focus will also be on skipper Virat Kohli who has scored four consecutive half-centuries in ODIs but has failed to convert it into a century.
Both teams, inside the top three of ICC rankings, are known to play fearless cricket. And they take pride in doing that.
India captain Virat Kohli said that when two top teams like England and India play, one of them is bound to win convincingly.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), KL Rahul (wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur
England: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood, Dawid Malan.