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India's predicted playing XI for 1st ODI vs England

T Natarajan would look to build on his impressive ODI debut against Australia.
T Natarajan would look to build on his impressive ODI debut against Australia.
ANALYST
Modified 22 Mar 2021
Feature

There is no Championship Final that a win in the ODI series will grant to either of England or India. Neither is there, unlike the just-concluded T20I series, the urgency of nailing down a best XI for an upcoming mega-event. Why then, do you ask, will the upcoming ODI series between England and India have any context worth watching for?

For starters, the two are the top-ranked sides in the 50-over format, just like the T20I format, meaning England have their top spot to preserve. India also have a formidable record in home ODI series, having lost just two of them - by a 3-2 margin - in the past eight years. England stride in with the tag of being World Champions in this format, and will collide with the hosts of the next ICC ODI World Cup.

Aside from the format-specific concerns of both sides, there are also a number of questions thrown up by the recent T20I rubber. Not only have India undergone a significant middle order rejig, with Shreyas Iyer moving down from No. 4 to No. 6, they have a problem of plenty with new entrants Suryakumar and Ishan Kishan scoring fifties in their first batting opportunity. Virat Kohli's successful ploy of batting at the top, leading to the most balanced-looking eleven of the five T20Is, throws another possibility into the mix.

Here is India's predicted playing XI for the first ODI against England.


Openers: Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan

Will KL Rahul make the cut ahead of Shikhar Dhawa
Will KL Rahul make the cut ahead of Shikhar Dhawan?>

Rohit Sharma has had an incredible run of form in all formats, winning India the Test series and the T20I decider most recently. With the opener's slot cemented by him in this format, the bigger question for India is regarding his opening partner.

Unless there is another wildcard decision taken by Kohli and co, the toss-up for the slot is between Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul. On worrying lines, both failed to impress in the T20I series, with the latter getting opportunities in abundance. What edges the call in favour of senior man Dhawan is the left-handed variation he brings to the top order, and his consistency over a long period of time - particularly in large tournaments.

KL Rahul can make the cut by returning to the form he showed both in the IPL and in international limited-overs series prior to the one against England. However, his recent cluelessness against potent pace bowling is likely to keep him out.

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Middle order: Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer

Shreyas Iyer has proved his utility as a middle-order accelerator.
Shreyas Iyer has proved his utility as a middle-order accelerator.

Virat Kohli shrugged off suggestions that he was out of form with three destructive 70-plus scores in the T20I series, two of them ending in Indian victory. The Indian captain demonstrated his ability to play in diverse game situations, whether it be the powerplay or the acceleration phase at the death, and will look to build solid platforms as he is used to doing in this format.

Rishabh Pant added to his growing reputation as India's crisis man with a quickfire innings when the pitch was good, and important thirties on difficult wickets. His ability to counterattack and dig India out of a hole might be well utilised in the ODI format as well, and hence he could move up to No. 4 in the lineup. His increased reliability with the gloves also means KL Rahul has fewer safeguards regarding his position in the side.

Shreyas Iyer was expected to make way for the young guns following an insipid tour of Australia, but he proved his detractors wrong with a one-man show on a tough track, and showed his ability to accelerate at the death. His form with the bat provides India with a smooth transition between their middle and lower-middle order.

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Published 22 Mar 2021, 14:35 IST
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