The weather is cold for one and pleasant for the other. The ODI team is experienced for one and new for the other. The captain is same for one and different for the other. Virat Kohli for India and Eoin Morgan for England will lead their sides in a 3-ODI series, starting January 15. Things have changed since we entered 2017. MS Dhoni, while making his new year s resolution, decided to pass on the limited-overs captaincy to his long-time deputy Kohli. Meanwhile, Morgan and team strategists, in their own backyard, were busy dishing out plans against Dhoni s unorthodox style of captaincy.

Little did they know that Dhoni would announce the resignation 10 days prior to the series. Now, while they were busy packing bags, they were forced to change their strategies according to Kohli s brand of cricket. They have seen him station fielders in the five-Test series. They know his traits. They know his weaknesses. But that was a different format altogether: that there was a different mechanism; that there was a different approach; that they lost 0-4. However, this England team is new. This England team reached the final of ICC World T20 2016, on the same soil (this fact does not get old). This England team does not have a tail. How, you ask?

England s batting arsenal

Jason Roy punches the ball on the leg-side as fast as Dhoni s stumps. Yes, you read that right. Yes, Roy can flick as well. But only few, very few batsman can walk down the track and punch it on the leg-side, so much so that it appears as if he watches the ball in slow motion.

Alex Hales 171 is the highest individual score for England. Joe Root is termed the best ever England batsman in coming years. Morgan can reverse-sweep a ball over the boundary line. Jos Buttler is the top batsman since May 2015, in terms of strike rate. But Roy averages 8 runs more than him. Sam Billing scored 93 off 85 balls in a 305-run chase, against Dhoni s captaincy, in the first warm-up match. Ben Stokes can use the long handle to devastating effect. This was just the top and middle order.

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

Liam Plunkett had hit a last-ball six when England needed 7. Whether Chris Woakes is a batting or bowling all-rounder, is still difficult to decipher. Moeen Ali is elegant as ever. Adil Rashid has qualities of a subcontinent batsman. David Willey, their left-arm pacer, has a hundred in a domestic T20 game. You get the notion, right? The match is not over until India takes the last wicket. But until then, given the batting strength, how much runs would England amass on these batting-friendly tracks?

But India wins on nerves

India has a reputation of chasing down mammoth targets. India has Kohli at No. 3, followed by Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj, Dhoni, and supposedly new finisher Kedar Jadhav. Though, it depends on what team composition India goes with. Then they have all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya. At top they boast of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul. However, that is not the point. India wins on nerves. They come back from the dead. They take it to the last moment and still emerge triumphant (that is Dhoni but the others can, more or less, do that). In short, they know how to plan a chase.

And that is the significant challenge England will have to tackle.

Fielding makes the difference

If there is one aspect India hands down have the edge over England, it is fielding.

In hot and humid conditions, it becomes an uphill task to maintain the adrenaline level. To make matters worse, it becomes even more difficult after twilight, due to dew (alliteration, is it?). England are not used to these conditions, but they have done it in the past, maybe not with distinction. Nonetheless, England s fielders are not as athletic as the Indians. The Kohlis, the Jadejas, the Dhonis: these are street-smart cricketers. They create a run-out chance out of nothing. And to top it, it is even more difficult to convert ones into twos against them.

The death-bowling

It is apparent: the team, which bowls well in the death overs, takes the cake. That s that.

Willey has a good slower ball. Woakes bowls according to the batsman s foot work. Jake Ball has serious pace. Plunkett is experienced. To evidence it, they bowled remarkably well in the first warm-up until Dhoni unleashed his belligerence in the last over.

India, on the other hand, have Jasprit Bumrah, who has a sling-shot action and trained along with Lasith Malinga in the IPL. In other words, he can bowl toe-crushing yorkers without losing focus. But that s that. Others like Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Pandya often find it difficult to contain the onslaught when the opposition fires on all cylinders.

All the same, it largely depends on how Kohli uses his spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, and Jadeja. Besides, which duo will Kohli go for? For that matter, Jadeja has to play, given his accuracy and fielding skills. Hence, the conundrum will be whether to go for Ashwin or the leg-spinner Mishra.

Above all, we will see the good ol Dhoni take the centre stage as only a batsman-wicketkeeper after a decade, at Pune s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.


India: Virat Kohli (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Yuvraj Singh

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes

Time: 08:00 GMT | 13.30 PM IST