About the Match
The first match of a three-match One Day International is very important since the winning team will go on to win the series more often than not. This can be even truer in places like India where the visiting teams can get behind and then find it extremely difficult to come back.
Can Eoin Morgan and his resurgent England One Day unit beat India at home or is another heavy defeat on the cards?
1st ODI Preview
India may have beaten the England team 4-0 just a few weeks back but the shift to ODI’s mean that they will now encounter a very different England team. In fact, ever since the debacle of 2015, England has made a concerted effort to change the way they play limited overs cricket and transformed into one of the best ODI teams in the world.
This will be the first team that Virat Kohli will lead India as its appointed skipper in ODI’s and he will have some tough decisions to take immediately. Almost all first choice [players are available after a long time and so team selection is going to be a big headache.
Virat will have to choose two of Rahane, Dhawan or KL Rahul to bat at the top of the innings, decide whether he goes back to his test spinners or stick with Amit Mishra (who has a five-for in the last match), take a call on Dhoni’s batting position and about which all-rounder to play.
We have a feeling that Shikhar Dhawan might be the one to miss out even though he had been in the runs before getting injured.
Irrespective of who India eventually pick, though, they will have a deep batting order. With Hardik Pandya expected to bat at 7 followed by Jadeja and Ashwin, India has a batting lineup that stretches till 9.
The main onus of run scoring though will fall on the top order. Virat Kohli had a dream 2016 where he was scoring runs at will. If he can bat like that in this series once again then England will have a tough fight on its hands.
We would back him to make the top-score once again in this game
. Dhoni and Yuvraj displayed good form in the warm-up matches and will bat at the crucial positions of 4 and 5. A Dhoni free of responsibility now may be one that looks to go hard once again but that will remain to be seen.
India’s bowling will be decisive in this series as England can match India on the batting front. If there is anything in the pitch for the spinners then India should be able to shut down England’s scoring, however, if it is a flat deck with nothing in it then India’s bowlers could be in a lot of trouble.
Jasprit Bumrah has established himself as a specialist death bowlers and gets a lot of wickets bowling in the latter stages of the innings. He could be the highest wicket taker for India in this match.
If you thought that India has a long batting lineup, then England’s will leave you thunderstruck. With Chris Woakes coming in at number 8 followed by the very capable David Willey and Adil Rashid, England can never be counted out of the game.
In fact, Eoin Morgan has tried to instill a no fear approach which can be spectacular when it comes off and look stupid sometimes in between. Jason Roy, Alex Hales, and Joe Root are excellent hitters of the cricket ball while Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes ca change the course of a game with ease.
Jason Roy had an excellent worldt20 where he gave England some blazing starts. Alex Hales is also capable of the same thing, however, his previous record in India is not too good.
A lot of England players have been playing limited overs cricket in the Big Bash League and come to India with a lot of game time under their belt. We think that Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler are the two batsmen likely to hurt India the most. Back them to get 50 plus scores in the first match.
One of the things that differentiate this England team from previous ones is their six-hitting ability. Almost every player in their lineup can clear the boundary with ease and a lot of them have the shots to play 360 degrees around the wickets.
Unlike India, who do not play the reverse sweeps, switch hits and paddles, England batsmen will try to put the spinners off their length by targeting both sides of the wicket.
England also has 6 genuine bowling options to turn to thanks to the inclusion of three all-rounders in their team. This means that they will be able to keep India under sustained pressure and not have to turn to any part-timers like the hosts might have to.
The extra option also gives them more flexibility if dew becomes a factor. While the start time of the match has been pushed up by one hour to try and prevent that from happening, expect the team winning the toss to chase.
The Pune pitch is usually absolutely flat and excellent for batting so a high scoring match is in prospect. An early bet on a match total between 315-340 could fetch some excellent returns. A first innings total of this kind also does not mean a sure-fire victory, in fact, we think that the current series could be one where tall first innings totals are chased down with regularity.
India has been dominant over England in limited over matches recently and that is reflected by a 17-8 record in their last 28 matches. They also have the home advantage in their favor. England last won a bilateral series in India 33 years ago.
Even keeping all that in mind, however, we think that England is favorites to win this series 2-1. An unsettled India could get caught out quite easily in the first match. Back England To Win