The series is on the line as India and England lock horns in the third and final ODI at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Sunday.
Virat Kohli's men took a 1-0 lead with a commanding 66-run win in the series opener, but the visitors came roaring back to clinch a 6-wicket victory in the 2nd ODI.
England scaled the summit of the Cricket World Cup Super League with their win in the last game, and they'll look to consolidate their position at the top with a series triumph.
India, on the other hand, will want to clinch yet another bilateral white-ball series ahead of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League. To do this, the hosts need to address a number of critical issues that have plagued them on end.
Here are 3 areas of concern India need to fix ahead of the 3rd ODI against England.
#3 India have been unable to get early breakthroughs with the ball
The patterns of both ODIs in this series have been similar. England openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been wary of the new ball, especially Bhuvneshwar Kumar. After getting their eye in around halfway through the powerplay, Roy and Bairstow have unleashed carnage on the Indian bowlers.
Bhuvneshwar and his new-ball partner Prasidh Krishna haven't taken a single wicket in the powerplay. In fact, even in the previous limited-overs series against Australia and New Zealand, India struggled with the same issue.
The new-ball bowlers haven't been able to hit the right lengths consistently enough, and their plans haven't been clear enough. It remains to be seen if India rest either Bhuvneshwar or Prasidh, but irrespective of who takes the field, they need to break the opening partnership at the earliest.
#2 India have been too circumspect in the powerplay
India's powerplay woes haven't been limited to their bowling. Even in the batting department, after being put in to bat, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have gotten the team off to slow starts. India have scored only 39/0 and 41/2 in the first ten overs in the two ODIs respectively.
Rohit and Dhawan aren't batsmen who are capable of attacking right from the outset, but they can't afford to waste 75% of the powerplay in the name of caution. International white-ball cricket is evolving rapidly, and they need to adapt to the times.
Speaking about the same, former England captain Nasser Hussain claimed:
“India, with two of the greatest white-ball batters there have ever been in their top three — Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — try to bat normally through the first powerplay. It's not as if they are slouches when it comes to strike rates, but they take their time and soak up pressure. It's old-fashioned, 50-over cricket from five years ago. It's almost as if they are playing a 30-over game initially in which they are intent on keeping wickets in hand, followed by a Twenty20 innings.”
India need to find a way to collect boundaries in the powerplay against the guile of Sam Curran and Reece Topley.
#1 India's spin attack is in troubled waters
The most concerning issue for India in white-ball cricket has been the spinners' struggles.
Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya were taken to the cleaners in the 2nd ODI, and it wasn't the first time that an Indian spin pair was completely ineffective. Even apart from Kuldeep and Krunal, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has underwhelmed for the national team in the recent past.
India don't have many options on the bench as well. Chahal is a candidate to replace Kuldeep, while Washington Sundar could get a game instead of Krunal. Either way, the hosts need to find a way to get wickets in the middle overs despite the field restrictions.
If they don't, we could see a repeat of the 2nd ODI.