India vs England | Gains outweigh losses in India’s balance sheet

India lost 10 of the 12 tosses across the three formats, but Kohli’s cavaliers completed a clean-sweep, winning the Test, T20I and ODI series against England played over the last two months.

The three-match ODI contest, which concluded with a nail-biting seven-run victory for India on Sunday, signified the first of many preparatory steps towards the 2023 World Cup, also to be played on Indian soil. Here’s a look at some of the team’s gains — and pains — from the ODI series.

Bhuvi back, Shardul continues to attack

After an injury-enforced hiatus of more than a year, Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned to the limited-over set-up last month. Having gained confidence in the T20Is, Bhuvneshwar was back at his miserly best in the ODIs.

On the flat beds laid out at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, his economy-rate of 4.65 in 29 overs stood out, comfortably the best of the series. Add his six wickets, and Bhuvneshwar seems one of Kohli’s top options even after Jasprit Bumrah returns.

Shardul Thakur, on the other hand, all but cemented his spot in white-ball cricket as third pacer and useful No. 8 batsman. His high economy-rate often draws comment, but that’s expected for a wicket-taker.

The last week has shown that Shardul succeeds against the best of batsmen, even against the odds. In the third ODI, for instance, he was brought into the attack in the 14th over and cleaned up England’s middle-order in quick time to put India in the ascendancy.

Licence to thrill

Thanks to a less-than-reliable middle-order over the last five years, India’s top three were forced to adopt the conventional approach of building an innings before letting loose at the death.

But with K.L. Rahul regaining his mojo and the fearsome pair of Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya back at their best, India has the ability to emulate England’s crash-bang-wallop mantra right through the innings.

Both Pant and Hardik have shown that their methodical madness — one manufacturing strokes, the other using raw power to clear the field with elan — can not only devastate the opposition but also free up Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top.

End of Kul-Cha?

When five pacers and a solitary spinner, Krunal Pandya, took the field in the decider, it was the first instance of India’s ODI XI featuring neither Kuldeep Yadav nor Yuzvendra Chahal since the 2017 Champions Trophy.

While Chahal was benched for the ODIs, Kuldeep appeared to have lost his zip and turn in the first two games. The left-arm wrist-spinner’s mishandling over the last two years seems to have affected his confidence.

As a result, India will be desperate to see Ravindra Jadeja return from his injury break to partner Chahal. With R. Ashwin having been sidelined in the shorter formats, without Jadeja and Chahal, the coffers seem empty — the combined figures of India’s spinners in the series read 39-0-312-1.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 3:34:52 PM |

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