India do not start the ODI series as favourites    IANS
India do not start the ODI series as favourites IANS

A new era in limited-overs cricket ensues for Team India. At helm is a delighted Virat Kohli, now the captain of the side in all three formats. This is India s last ODI series before the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 so it raises questions if MS Dhoni s passing of baton was at opportune moment or not. Kohli has 3 ODIs to identify the core of the side that have the task to defend the Champions Trophy six months later. Contrary to popular notions, India do not start as favourites against England in this series, as the visitors have an well-oiled side for this format and are the most-improved ODI side in recent times.

The MCA International Stadium in Pune is set to witness the contest between the third-ranked in ODIs, India against England, who are ranked at No. 5. England s rise under Eoin Morgan since their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 debacle has been remarkable. In fact, since the tournament, England have won 19, lost 11 and tied 1, and hence have the best win-loss ratio. With the Test series in pocket 4-0, can Kohli s men stop the English juggernaut? Ahead of the first ODI, Suvajit Mustafi looks at India s probable team composition.

FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs England, 1st ODI at Pune

Top-order:The monster is missing at the top. There is no Rohit Sharma. But that does not ease the selection headache.

Either of Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane or KL Rahul will be missing out. Dhawan found form in the warm-up game and so did Rahane. Meanwhile, Rahul, India s only debut centurion in ODIs has been in a sublime touch and it would not be easy to look beyond.

Rahane has more experience playing at Pune, especially for his stint with Rising Pune Supergiants. However, knowing the opposition s strength in their explosive opening duo, India may opt for aggression and go ahead with Dhawan and Rahul.

Then the captain. Kohli, the side s best batsman, walks out at No. 3.

Middle-order: Captain Cool Dhoni in all likelihood will be given a run at No. 4. Kohli has made it clear that he wants Dhoni to bat at this position. Anchoring the innings or going ballistic, Dhoni brings in the required expertise.

A free-minded Dhoni will add to the treat and add his wicketkeeping to the whole, and here is his MVP factor. Expect him to keep coming up with many inputs from behind the stumps to the new captain.

If Yuvraj Singh is in the 15, he plays. That means no Manish Pandey. Yuvraj was in a good touch in the warm-up game. His left-arm spin will also prove to be crucial in case one of the main bowlers is having an off day.

Suresh Raina s loss was Kedar Jadhav s gain. The explosive Maharashtra cricketer was brilliant in the New Zealand series. He will lead the army of finishers and we have witnessed how handy are his off-spins.

Hardik Pandya follows next. As explosive as he can be with the willow, the youngster can clock serious pace too. He fulfils India s long quest for a pace bowling all-rounder.

Bowlers: Throw in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as chief spinners against England seems to be the popular call. Wait. What about Amit Mishra?

Mishra claimed a five-for in his last ODI and having a quality leg-spinner at your disposal is always a good attacking option. With Pandya fulfilling all-rounder s role, Jadeja may end up facing the axe since there is Ashwin.

Ashwin and Mishra are expected to lead the spin attack. When chips are down, Ashwin s batting too will hold the key.

Umesh Yadav s discipline and improved show in the last few months will see him lead the pace attack. Though India will miss Mohammed Shami, they have Jasprit Bumrah, who is amongst the best death bowlers in the world.

India s likely XI: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya / Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Aswhin, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

India vs England, 1st ODI, Pune: Likely XI for hosts