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India vs England 2014: Hosts need to zero in on batting spine ahead of ODI series

It's time for England to prove themselves in the limited over's format as well © Getty Images
It’s time for England to prove themselves in the limited-over’s format as well © Getty Images

Alex Hales being given the nod to open the nod for opening the batting with skipper Alistair Cook has its pluses and pitfalls. R Vishal discusses the how England can solve the middle order conundrum and what kind of lineup they should go for in the first One-Day International (ODI) against India.

Opening with a combination of a muscular, big-hitting batsman and plodder who can stockpile runs and drop anchor at the other is nothing new in international cricket. It’s been two decades since teams have approached the early powerplay overs with this mindset. England, though have been rather slow to warm up to the idea. With the game undergoing dramatic changes in structure and rules with every summer, few captains took the 50-over game seriously since World Cup 1992, where England reached the final.

The pattern looked like changing at a certain point with Craig Kieswetter and the maverick, Kevin Pietersen pushed at the top of the order. The results, however, was mixed and the English went back to their tried and untested formula. With Alastair Cook confirming Hales’ inclusion in the playing XI, the team management have quite a task ahead with their middle order.

Possibility 1: Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Joe Root at Nos 3, 4 & 5:

If stability is what England is looking for, Ian Bell comes in at one down and Balance being shifted down to No 4 and Joe Root coming in at No 5. The flexibility of these batsmen creates multiple possibilities for the team and England can use this to their advantage by shuffling these three batsmen depending on the scenario at hand. Wicketkeeper  Jos Buttler comes in at No 7 and either of Ben Stokes/Chris Woakes/Moeen Ali in the line-up.

Moeen Ali — in or out?

Moeen Ali deserves credit for proving his critics wrong in the Test series. With England continuing to do away with a specialist spinner in the lineup, Moeen Ali had the Indian batsmen in a spin. There is no guarantee that he could enjoy even a modicum of that success in coloured clothing. His batting form has been shaky and struggles with the short ball. Nailing down a spot is going to be hard to come by from here on.

Ben Stokes vs Chris Woakes:

Chris Woakes, despite not possessing the natural talent of Ben Stokes acquitted himself well recently, which saw Ben Stokes lose his spot after his heroics in Australia earlier in the year. Stokes’s poor form since his injury return coupled with Woakes’s inexperience means that Moeen Ali can take the specialist all-rounder spot.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

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