After a keenly fought T20 series, England and India turn their attentions to the 50 over game on Tuesday when they head to The Oval for the first match of a three game ODI series which should be just as competitive.
In the overall scheme of things there is nothing on these matches as they don’t count towards World Cup qualification but no fixture between these two carries no significance at all so both will be eager to come out on top.
This is the first time we’ll have seen England in ODI cricket since their record breaking exploits in the Netherlands. They did that with a bit of a second string side, especially with the bat and they will be a lot stronger here. We are around 15 months away from England making the defence of their World Cup title so now is about the time they will begin to get serious about ODI cricket hence why a number of their Test players are available.
Since that trip to the Netherlands, England have a new leader with Eoin Morgan having passed the baton on to Jos Buttler. His initiation as the T20 captain didn’t go to plan so he’ll be eager for better fortunes in ODI cricket and if he is going to get that then he will need his bowlers to max out as he is without a number of bowlers who you would suggest would be in the XI if they were fit and the opening game of the World Cup was tomorrow.
India go into this ODI series off the back of a win in the T20 series which will have buoyed confidence. They are always a good 50 over team and come here off the back of winning their last three matches. This will be a good test for where they are as a side because there is obviously going to be a lot of focus and attention on their ODI side with the World Cup on home soil next year. While they will be wanting their senior players to stand up here, it is just as important that some good young talent come through too.
India were excellent with the ball in the two T20 matches that they won and although they let England get away in the final game they will know that they rotated their bowlers enough to give players a match for it not to mean a great deal. With their leading attack back in play in this match they will be expected to be strong with the ball so if they can catch fire with the bat like they did in the T20s they are entitled to be tough to beat.
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England will welcome the big trio of Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes back for a first ODI in more than a year. Adil Rashid misses out so Matt Parkinson looks to be the main spinner while an inspired performance in the final T20 on Sunday could see Reece Topley play on his home ground.
India will bring the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal back after they sat out the last T20. Hardik Pandya is expected to return too leaving their only selection issue whether to play Suryakumar Yadav after his brilliant 100 at Trent Bridge or Shreyas Iyer.
I’ll go with three for this opening match of the series. I expect a high scoring match here but it is one I think India will win. I just think this incredibly hot and dry weather will assist the Indians. While I’m sure this will be a fresh pitch and the groundsman will have done his best to keep it flat and hard the weather has been such that it will be very hard to have kept the pitch in pristine condition and temperatures are set to go way above 30 degrees throughout the match so the India bowlers will probably be more suited to that. Their batters will certainly be better off if there is a bit of turn in the track. Any assistance in the pitch will help India but if there is none and this becomes a battle of the death bowlers then I take India there too. I’d have them marginal favourites in these conditions.
I do expect the runs to flow in this match because both the batting units are extremely aggressive and as such I expect more than 11.5 sixes here. I say it every time we come to The Oval but since that OCS Stand was put up the straight boundaries here are a lot shorter while the corner is cut in towards the scoreboard on the school side of the ground. If there is some pace and bounce in the pitch then the square boundaries aren’t massive here either so with the talent on show with the bat in this match a dozen sixes on this ground should be well within range.
That corner getting cut off down by the groundsman’s shed always lures me into backing left-handers to top score on this ground and Ben Stokes looks a good price at 17/2. We know he is hitting the ball well from all the innings he has played in the Test matches and this ground definitely isn’t big enough to contain him. Stokes made 89 in a top scoring effort in his last ODI here in the World Cup in 2019 and should be facing the lesser bowlers at the time of the innings he’ll come in. I like him to top score here.
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