Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
Date: Tuesday, March 23rd
The England tour of India has reached its final stage as the tourists move from Ahmedabad – the site of the five T20I matches – to Pune, the site of the three-match ODI portion of the tour. If those ODIs are anything like the T20Is that we were just treated to then we are going to be in for a gripping end to this tour.
India took the T20I series 3-2 after winning the fourth and fifth matches with their backs against the wall. World Cup Super League points are up for grabs here and though the stakes aren’t as high as the T20I series – with the World Cup at the end of the year being something both teams are already prepping for – the sheer fact that this is India vs England makes this bilateral ODI series one of the more intriguing of the year.
The India squad contains three players that have been called up for the first time to the international squad for this format. The biggest inclusion is probably Suryakumar Yadav as he is fresh off of scoring a powerful 57 in his maiden T20I game against England on Thursday. The other two players to have received a call for the first time are Prasidh Krishna and Krunal Pandya. Those two will add options to the Indian bowling attack. India will be without Jasprit Bumrah (recently marries) and Mohammed Shami is still recovering from a wrist injury suffered late last year.
England will be unpowered for this series as the tourists continue their policy of rotating players to try to keep everyone fresh – and healthy – through a packed 2021 season of international cricket. The main miss in the batting lineup will be the rested Joe Root, a player that averages 50.10 in the format. Liam Livingstone and Sam Billings look like the obvious choices for a spot in the batting lineup. England will also be down in the bowling stakes too as fast bowler Jofra Archer will miss the series – and perhaps some of the IPL – ad he has an elbow issue that only got worse through the T20I series. All-rounder Chris Woakes is also absent to rest.
The MCA Stadium is one that the batsmen can get on top of. Of the four ODIs that have been played there, three of them have gone over 300 for the winning score. The weather will be good and shouldn’t play a role, so this will be a true test of the two teams and their ability. If England were at full strength then I would be tempted to lean their way. The three missing stars, however, are all big parts of how the ODI team plays and without the stability of Root and the pace of Archer, it is going to be more of a struggle. Take the hosts and look for a big performance right out of the sheds after their T20I success and the confidence of the players that are in both squads to show through.