Virat Kohli Eoin Morgan England India ODIs
Virat Kohli and Eoin-Morgan pose with the trophy before the ODI series © Getty Images

India beat England 2-1 in the T20 Internationals, a fair outcome, given the way the teams played. A sterner test awaits India in the first ODI at Trent Bridge, for they will be up against the top-ranked ODI side, a batting order that has dismantled bowling attacks in recent past with a bottomless line-up of savage hitters. England have amassed their runs at 6.26 since their disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign: no other side has more than 5.77.

On the other hand, England have gone for 5.71 an over, the second-worst over this period, marginally better than Sri Lanka’s 5.74. India have a creditable 5.33, the second-best among major nations after Bangladesh’s 5.25. In other words, the English bowlers have not really risen to the challenge, especially on flat tracks.

If the England top three have scored at 98.8 runs per hundred balls, their Indian counterparts have got them at a competent 92.9. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli is definitely as strong a top three as any in the world. Of course, there have been suggestions that Kohli may drop down to four to accommodate KL Rahul at three, but it is unlikely that Kohli will relinquish his position. Unlike in T20 matches, Rahul will find time to play himself in here.

MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya will bat at six and seven, but the No. 5 position will be keenly contested. Fans of Dinesh Karthik will probably feel let down yet again, but Suresh Raina is the only Indian top-order batsman who can chip in as a sixth bowler. Raina will be needed to bowl on the typically flat Trent Bridge track.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, the two Indian wrist-spinners with contrasting styles, will play a major role in the series. They hold the biggest threat, especially with Jasprit Bumrah absent and Bhuvneshwar Kumar uncertain. A much-improved Umesh Yadav will definitely retain his spot.

India likely XI for first ODI vs England: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Siddarth Kaul (if Bhuvneshwar Kumar is unfit), Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.

England had dropped Joe Root for the third T20I at Bristol, but he will definitely return for the longer version. This will pose the enviable problem of plenty for the team selectors: Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have established themselves as an inseparable pair of blasters at the top; with Root and Jos Buttler both certainties, Eoin Morgan will have to choose between Alex Hales and Ben Stokes. While Stokes seems the more obvious choice, Hales has been in superb form of late; perhaps Stokes may have to sit out for at Trent Bridge. The bowling quintet had served England well against Australia needs no change.

Update: With Hales being ruled out on the morning of the match, a selectors’ dilemma will be solved. England’s top six is now sorted.

England likely XI for first ODI vs India: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood.

Predictions: Even if both sides score at their average pace, 603 runs will be scored in the match — and we are talking average here. Given the flat tracks England have produced this summer for some of the ODIs, that number is likely to be exceeded by some distance.

The match (and the series, generally) is likely to be dominated by bat, and when that happens, quality bowling always makes a difference. Kuldeep and Chahal were fantastic in South Africa, but the pitches will be flatter here and the batsmen more destructive. Bhuvi’s fitness will also prove crucial, as will those ten overs from Hardik.

England, boasting of the stronger line-up and playing on familiar surfaces, will probably take field as favourites — but only slightly.