When England lost theearlier in the week, they edged one step closer to heading home without having anything to show for from the long draining India tour. Five days after that batting collapse, the visitors have given themselves the best chance of finishing the tour in the same vein they started in Chennai. Having lost the Test series and the T20I series that followed suit, the world champions will be pretty pleased if they can come out on top at least in the ODI leg of the tour, especially taking into account the absence of Jofra Archer, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan.
The batting beauties in Pune have helped their cause too as England’s tried and tested formula of going hard after the opponent’s bowlers paid dividends. Their ability to clear the ropes at regular intervals was on display(March 26) when they smashed 20 sixes in the chase of 337. Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have put on more than 100 in both the games and Stokes stunned India with a 52-ball assault in the second ODI that included 10 sixes. India’s best bet will be to see the back of the top 3 as early as possible in order to apply pressure on Dawid Malan, Liam Livingstone and even Jos Buttler to an extent, who has made two runs in two games so far.
In order to limit the damage the top 3 can potentially cause, India will have to rethink their strategies in the middle overs and perhaps even personnel. Kuldeep Yadav’s confidence has taken a beating and Krunal Pandya has had offcolour outings as well with the ball. A container like Washington Sundar and a proven performer like Yuzvendra Chahal will fancy their chances of getting an outing in order to bolster that spin attack.
India will also have to probably get a move on with the bat a little earlier. They scored 126 runs in the final 10 overs but if they can manage to show more intent at the top or start opening up sooner than wait for the completion of the 40th over, a bigger total will be on the cards. And even if they do post one, there are no guarantees that they can go on and defend it. There was a lot of noise around Hardik Pandya not bowling in the previous game and even though Virat Kohli clearly stated that they were managing his workload, the allrounder might chip in if required especially after the success in the T20I series.
When: Sunday, March 28, 2021, 13:30 IST
Where: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
What to Expect: Pacers from both sides did find assistance at the beginning but on both occasions, the pitch has turned out to be a belter. Expect nothing less with another high-scoring game on the cards.
India:The batting lineup looks settled, especially with Rishabh Pant seamlessly filling in for Shreyas Iyer. But Yuzvendra Chahal’s chances of a recall have received a massive boost and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Washington Sundar or T Natarajan get a go as well.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya/Washington Sundar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur/T Natarajan, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal
England:The visitors will have no reason to change their winning combination. Tom Curran, however, will be under pressure and England will be keen on replacing him with Mark Wood, who was rested for the previous game.
Probable XI: Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler (c/wk), Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley, Mark Wood
What they said:
“Of course, we need to play smart at times but we always want to commit to that fashion that we play and the brand of cricket that we play as a side that served us so well for so long.” – Jos Buttler sees no reason to change England’s approach
“I never played for hundreds in my life, probably why I ended up getting so many in such a short while. It’s more important for the team to win. If I get a three-figure score and the team doesn’t win, it means nothing.” – Virat Kohli isn’t bothered by the century drought