Venue: The Oval, London
Date: Sunday 12 July
India will be very happy with how the first round of white-ball games went for them on this tour of England. The hosts were expected to pick up from the work done by their Test side, but instead, it was India that bolted out of the blocks in the T20I format.
They took the first T20I by 50 runs and England never looked like getting close to the 199 they needed to win. in the second T20I, it was more of the same, with England looking disjointed and out of sorts. Set a target of 171 to win – something England is well capable of – they collapsed to being all out for 121 at the end of 17 overs. It was a wretched display and one they needed to turn around in the third T20I.
This they did as they were the first team to bat for the first time in the series. England used that advantage in a big way as Dawid Malan top-scored for the team with 77 of their 215 runs. Suryakumar Yadav went off for India as he smashed 117 from 55 balls, but it wasn’t enough as they finished 17 runs shy of their total.
It was England who redefined what it was to be an ODI team back in 2019 when they slogged their way to the World Cup trophy that year. This was the change when ODIs stopped being a shortened form of Test cricket and – seemingly overnight – became an extension of the T20 game instead.
It was Jos Buttler’s first T20I series since taking over from Eoin Morgan and this will also be the first ODI series he has faced with the captain’s armband. Buttler was not his usual self in the shortest format of the game and he – along with the England squad in general – will be looking to rebound here.
That rebound will be helped by the addition of some big names (and characters) to the team. Joe Root – who doesn’t play T20Is – is one of those returning and he will be joined by the rested pair of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. To say the England batting lineup got better overnight feels like an understatement.
It just feels like Virat Kohli cannot catch a break. He isn’t in any kind of form right now and the 33-year-old has picked up a groin strain significant enough that he will not be playing in this one. He didn’t even travel with the squad to London as the Indian team doctors are looking for specialists to help in diagnosing his issue and deciding on a course for the best treatment. Kohli is out of form to the point that it would not be at all shocking if he was rested/dropped from India’s upcoming tour of the West Indies and USA.
Expect India to play loose in this one. The way teams attack the T20 game has certainly bled into the ODI format and when the option is high-risk or safety-first the vast majority of squads are opting to swing the bat.
I like England a lot in this format and their returning stars will be exactly what they need to avenge the T20I defeats. Look for England to take the first match at 9/10 and also the series.