England are win-less in seven matches in India now and must surely be scratching their heads as to what they have to do, to put one over the hosts.
Virat Kohli’s India have definitely not steamrolled their visitors in at least five of their half-a-dozen victories—in my opinion, the Mumbai Test has been the only one-sided contest we have witnessed between India and England. But the hosts’ knowledge about the prevalent conditions and individuals standing up in times of adversity, with Kedar Jadhav’s century in the first ODI and Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni‘s 256-run stand in Cuttack being prime examples, have certainly helped the Men in Blue keep the Poms at bay.
The Cuttack ODI was a humdinger and India, despite posting 381 batting first, could not breathe easy for as long as Eoin Morgan was in the middle. He was run out with nine legal deliveries left and England needing 28 runs, but who knows what might have given if the England ODI skipper was in the middle until the end.
The Indian bowling attack has been erratic and I do not think the pitches can be entirely blamed for the showings of the two bowling attacks. The pitches in Pune and Cuttack were batsmen-friendly indeed, but generally, the bowlers from both teams did not bowl as well as they can or we expected them to.
The win in Cuttack has given India a chance to experiment with their playing XI, as the three-ODI series against England is their final assignment before the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. So, while India are certain to make changes to the XI they fielded in the second ODI, which players are likely to get a look in?
India’s Playing XI for the Kolkata ODI v England
Shikhar Dhawan visited a hospital in Kolkata last night, for the continuing issue over his left thumb, which he had fractured in the second Test at Kolkata against New Zealand and consequently missed the Indore Test and the five ODIs that followed against the Blackcaps.
In Rohit Sharma’s absence, the three-ODI series against England was a great opportunity for Dhawan, who isn’t a part of India’s T20I squad for the upcoming three T20Is vs. England, to remind everyone that he is up for the competition Lokesh Rahul is currently providing him in every format.
But scores of 1 and 11 in the first couple of ODIs, have any way made Dhawan a weak link for tomorrow’s Kolkata one-dayer and even for the Champions Trophy in a bit more than four months’ time. Dhawan’s failures have made Ajinkya Rahane, who is another player fighting to seal his place in the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy 2017, an automatic choice in India’s playing XI for the third ODI against England.
Amit Mishra has unfortunately been forced to make way for the returning Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, despite being the man-of-the-series for his 15 wickets against New Zealand.
The Haryana leg-spinner, like Rahane and Dhawan, hasn’t found a place in the Indian T20I squad, meaning he should ideally be played tomorrow at the Eden Gardens. The question is, in place of who?
Eden Gardens has traditionally been a very good pitch for spinners, in that it tends to play quite slow and the ball does grip the surface a lot more than on most other pitches in the country. So, India have no reason to not play three spinners, with Mishra replacing Hardik Pandya, and thereby harness the conditions on offer.
If I was in Kohli’s and Anil Kumble’s shoes, I will definitely play three spinners and limit the number of overs bowled by the seamers. Pandya was taken to the cleaners at the Barabati Stadium on Thursday, when England scored 60 runs off his six overs. England like pace, so simply do not offer them pace!
Manish Pandey didn’t play in Pune and Cuttack and will love to play at his second home, being a Knight Rider. But, with Yuvraj scoring his career-best ODI score (150), I think the door is shut for the Karnataka batsman. He will have to wait for his opportunity to feature in an Indian playing XI.
India’s Playing XI for the Third ODI vs. England:
Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, and Jasprit Bumrah.
Do you agree with our choice of playing XI? Weigh in with your opinion in the comments section below.