Review of India’s ODI Squad for the 2017 England ODI Series and an Assessment of What is India’s Best Playing XI

Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble will be spoilt for choice when they sit down to pick India’s playing XI for the upcoming ODI series against England.

This has been a landmark week in Indian Cricket, with MS Dhoni relinquishing limited-overs captaincy and the Supreme Court removing Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke from their respective positions as BCCI President and Secretary. And so, 2017 hasn’t gotten off to a good start for people associated with Indian Cricket.

The three-ODI series against England, which commences on the 15th of January (next Sunday) and is India’s first assignment of 2017, will see Dhoni feature as non-captain in an Indian ODI side for the first time since August 2007. The September-October 2007 home ODI series against Australia was Dhoni’s first as India’s ODI captain.

Dhoni has been, arguably, the most vital element in India’s progress as a cricketing nation in the last 9+ years!


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In case you are wondering!

Dhoni, while he was the captain, hardly missed any games due to injuries, albeit he earned himself well-deserved rest in a handful of ODI series. One of those was India’s five-ODI series at home against Srilanka in October-November 2014, four months before the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Dhoni was rested for this preparatory series ahead of the quadrennial tournament and in his absence, Virat Kohli led India to a crushing 5-0 series win. So, although he has officially been made India’s limited-overs captain only now, Kohli has the experience of having already led the Men in Blue in ODIs.

I expect Kohli to take to limited-overs captaincy with relative ease, but he now has the challenge of juggling being Team India’s No. 3 and captain, too. It means Kohli has to be switched on for the length of an ODI and because he’s an intense person unlike the slightly laid-back Dhoni, the new Indian ODI and T20I skipper might find his new job to be a little taxing.

How do you expect Kohli to fare as India’s ODI and T20I captain? Share with us in the comments section below this article.  

Best Indian Playing XI from India’s ODI Squad for Series Against England

The return of Yuvraj Singh to the ODI and T20I squads for the upcoming series against England, has raised a few eyebrows. The man-of-the-ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has not done well in Indian colours in recent times, but his showings for Punjab in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy were probably the influential factor in his being picked.

In my opinion, the chosen Indian squad for the ODI series against England makes sense.

The table below, showing the players who have dropped out of the Indian squad from the five-ODI series against New Zealand and who have come in for the three-ODI series against England, provides a justification:

Players Out Players In
Rohit Sharma (right quadriceps injury) Shikhar Dhawan
Jayant Yadav Ravichandran Ashwin (was rested for New Zealand ODI series)
Axar Patel Ravindra Jadeja (was rested for New Zealand ODI series)
Suresh Raina Yuvraj Singh
Dhawal Kulkarni Bhuvneshwar Kumar (was not fit for the New Zealand ODI series 2016)
Mandeep Singh Lokesh Rahul

Indian Squad for the Three-ODI Series Against England: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (WK), Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuvraj Singh, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, and Amit Mishra.

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At the very beginning of this article, I said that Kohli and Kumble, who have so far proved to be a hugely successful captain-coach combo, will be spoilt for choice when they sit down to pick India’s playing XI for the Pune ODI at least. And the reasons for my assertion are to follow.

First-choice Openers

Shikhar Dhawan missed India’s 3-2 ODI series win against New Zealand due to a left thumb injury which he suffered in the second Test against the Blackcaps at the Eden Gardens. In S Dhawan’s absence, Rahane was Rohit’s opening partner for the five-ODI series against Kane Williamson’s men.

Now, if Rohit had been fit for the upcoming series, will S Dhawan have been picked? Probably not, with KL Rahul regaining fitness as well, having missed the 2016 ODI series against New Zealand due to a hamstring injury. Rahul enjoyed a great IPL 2016 season, during which he showed that he is a boundary hitter as much as he’s a solid Test opener, and can hence thrive in the shorter versions of the game as well.

The Karnataka batsman then followed it up with impressive and aggressive batting showings in the limited-overs matches against West Indies and Zimbabwe: Rahul smashed a 51-ball 110* in the first of the two-off T20Is against the defending WT20 Champions in the USA, accrued 196 runs in three ODIs against Zimbabwe, including a century (100*), and fared well in the three-T20I series against the same opposition as well. On the back of those performances, he will likely have been picked to open alongside Rohit in the ODI series against New Zealand if not for the hamstring injury he suffered in Kanpur.

As the only two specialist openers in the Indian squad for England ODI series 2017, KL Rahul and S Dhawan will likely be picked in India’s playing XI for the ODIs against the Poms.

Indian Middle Order

Rahane will be keen to do well in the three ODIs, having not been picked in the Indian T20I squad to face England. The 28-year-old endured a barren run in the Test series too. The Mumbai batsman has yet to replicate his Test success in ODIs and his place in the Indian ODI side is by no means certain. But being a dynamic fielder and a mercurial yet dangerous middle order batsman, I think Rahane nudges ahead, just, of Yuvraj in the pecking order and should be in India’s playing XI at least for the first couple of ODIs against Eoin Morgan’s men.

Kohli and Dhoni should slot in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. No. 4 should become Dhoni’s position if India want to get the most out of the former skipper.

Kedar Jadhav showed that he can hold his own during the ODI series against New Zealand, by making decent contributions with the bat and providing economical and productive overs with the ball. He harnessed the opportunities he had because Suresh Raina missed the entire series due to a viral fever. On the basis of his all-round showings against the Blackcaps, the Maharashtra batsman deserves to be in India’s first-choice playing XI for the ODI series against England.

All-rounder and Bowlers

Hardik Pandya was a revelation with the ball in the ODI series against New Zealand, as he bowled at very good speeds, swung the new ball and, as a consequence, carried a threat more often than not.

With the bat, Hardik’s immaturity was brought to light by his choice of shots in the Delhi and Ranchi ODIs against New Zealand, and the Indian team management will, no doubt, want the Baroda all-rounder to contribute more runs with the bat and ideally grow into a match-winner. For the moment, because he is bowling well and always scores his runs quickly, Hardik, an all-rounder in the making, should make the Indian playing XI for the England ODIs.

R Jadeja and R Ashwin were rested for the New Zealand ODI series, but with the three ODIs against the English being the final rehearsal before the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, India’s two most potent bowlers during the Test series should come straight back into the side. Their bowling to the aggressive English batsmen like Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan, and Joe Root should be enthralling to watch!

India now have a very good pool of fast bowlers who can be rotated from one series to another based on the workload. Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar are the three out-and-out quicks who have been picked in India’s squad for the three ODIs against England.

Umesh, in particular, had a great series against New Zealand, as he delivered wickets consistently—justified by his impressive bowling strike rate of 30.7, which is the number of balls for every one of his wickets (8)—and bowled relatively economically as well.

Jasprit Bumrah has impressed one and all with his versatility ever since he made his international debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in January 2016. He’s a proven death overs bowler, is deceptively quick and is a wicket-taker ultimately. With those characteristics, his place in India’s playing XI for all three ODIs and T20Is against England is not in question at all.

India’s first-choice playing XI for ODIs against England: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (WK), Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, and Jasprit Bumrah.

Waiting in the wings

Amit Mishra was the man-of-the-series against New Zealand. The Blackcaps batsmen were bamboozled by the Haryana leg-spinner’s guile and variations, particularly in the Visakhapatnam ODI, and Mishra picked 15-215 in the five ODIs. So you might think that he should be in India’s playing XI for the ODIs against England. But with R Jadeja and R Ashwin coming back into the side, Mishra has to wait for his chance.

Bhuvneshwar has increased his pace and is a better bowler now than when he last played an ODI for India, against Australia at the Manuka Oval during India’s tour of Australia 2016 for five ODIs and three T20Is. But he, like Mishra, should wait for an opportunity. I think he is one of the seamers who will be picked in India’s squad for the 2017 Champions Trophy, which is to be played in England, where the conditions are tailor-made for the UP seamer.

Yuvraj and Manish Pandey will keep Rahane and Jadhav on their toes and the backup for almost every position apart from Nos. 1 and 2, is the most conspicuous aspect of India’s ODI squad for the series against England.

Do you agree with Cricfooty‘s  choice of playing XI? Share with us your opinion.