India have struggled in their favoured department — batting — so far in this series © Getty Images
India have struggled in their favoured department — batting — so far in this series © Getty Images

India take on England in the sixth One-Day International (ODI) at Perth in what will be a virtual semi-final. While rain played spoil-sport in the fifth ODI between India and Australia, it also put England in an uncomfortable position. Without the cushion of their hard-earned bonus point, England must beat India where earlier a close loss might also have been enough.

In spite of their perceived batting might, India have struggled in their favoured department so far in this series. Rohit Sharma looked in pristine touch in their first match, but has been sidelined with a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him out till the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015’s main draw. Shikhar Dhawan‘s poor form continued, while Virat Kohli has struggled as well. Ajinkya Rahane has looked good in patches but has failed to cross 50 even once. Ambati Rayudu has looked a bit out of his depth and has been guilty of going for too many shots too often.

On the other hand, India’s bowling remains a huge concern. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has looked steady without being too threatening, and Umesh Yadav has been wayward. Ravichandran Ashwin has played only one match. Akshar Patel has been India’s first-choice spinner in the series so far, and has not done too badly. But with Ravindra Jadeja fit and ready to play, he could replace the younger all-rounder for the next game. Stuart Binny‘s impressive show against England in their last encounter has stood him in good stead, and he will probably retain his spot in the playing XI.

Meanwhile, perennial under-achievers England have managed to put in some impressive performances. Led by Ian Bell, Moeen Ali, and Joe Root, England have shown some real gumption with the bat. Though he scored a century in the first ODI, Eoin Morgan has looked a little unsettled following the blackmail saga, and he will be keen to put it behind him and get back to playing cricket. Ravi Bopara looks like a bit of a weak link in the line-up, and England could consider bringing in Alex Hales in his place to give the lower-order some teeth. Jos Buttler is yet to explode, but has seemed in reasonable nick.

It is the bowling attack of England that India will be truly wary of. While Steven Finn rocked India with some tremendous bowling the last time around, James Anderson continued to haunt the Indians as well. He will be keen to have another go at Kohli, whom he had completely dominated on India’s tour of England 2014.

The match will be played at Perth, which will mean that the pace bowlers of each side will come into the game. Finn, Anderson, and Chris Woakes would be licking their lips, but if Ishant Sharma and co. find their groove, they could rival their English counterparts.

England will still go into the match as favourites given their own form and the form of their opponents, but India can never be counted out. India tend to do well in high-pressure games. However, the same cannot be said of England.

Squads:

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ravi Bopara, James Taylor, Gary Balance, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, James Tredwell, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn.

India: MS Dhoni (C&WK), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu ,Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Akshar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni.

Time:  08:50 IST | 03:20 GMT

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)