India can get back on track
Ian Ogg previews the forthcoming ODI series between England and India and fancies the tourists to get back on track.
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A demoralised touring party must be a pretty unhappy place to be but given the vitriol that is likely to be poured upon the tourists on their return to India, perhaps they may be happy to spend a few more weeks in Britain while the dust settles.
The ODI series also offers them the opportunity for redemption and the chance to restore tarnished reputations and a convincing performance could consign the Test series to the history books as far as the fans and the media are concerned.
While Test cricket struggles to attract crowds in India, the IPL and one-day cricket in general goes from strength-to-strength and India possesses some fine exponents of the game.
It should be remembered they are the reinging world champions and also Champions Trophy holders. India are also third in the ICC rankings to England's are fifth; Virat Kohli is the world's highest-rated batsman in the 50-over format, while MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan also feature in the top 10. Finally, Ravindra Jadeja's name is prominent in both the bowling and all-rounder lists.
England’s only player in the top 10s is Jimmy Anderson and their side in the shorter format of the game always appears to be in a state of flux as they search for the right combinations and tactics.
T20 opener Alex Hales has been called up to the ODI squad and a fine summer for Notts across all formats of the game suggests that this rich talent may now have acquired the maturity and nous to fulfil his obvious potential – this could be his time.
Ian Bell is in great touch and Eoin Morgan and Joss Buttler can be explosive. Morgan will be particularly keen to make a point to the selectors after being overlooked for the Test side following Kevin Pietersen’s ‘retirement’.
That batting line-up should certainly pose some problems for an Indian attack that conceded totals of 358, 281, 301, 292, 271, 314 and 303 during their last two overseas tours against New Zealand and South Africa, when Dhoni opted to bowl whenever he won the toss on all bar one occasion. They lost five of those games and tied one with the other abandoned.
However, there are some old faces returning plus some new ones in Dhoni’s squad as they begin to work towards the World Cup (Sanju Samson is a name to note after an excellent ‘A’ series in Australia with 244 runs at just over 81).
Since 2000, England have the edge in home ODIs against India, leading 7-6 with one tie but in the last two seasons they have won just nine of their 22 'home' games in this format.
That does not suggest they should be as short as 4/7 to win the series, especially with rumours abounding that the first two games will be played on pitches that are flat and slow.
A number of the Indian squad participated in their successful 2013 Champions Trophy campaign in England and Wales so they will be confident about handling conditions which helps negate that poor away record already touched upon.
In terms of poor form, it's worth noting that England have also failed to win in four home series, drawing against South Africa and losing to New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka.
They have on just 18 of their last 40 ODIs so despite having the momentum and a batting line-up that is finally packed with potential match winners they look poor value and it’s well worth taking a chance with India at odds-against.
In the player markets, Jimmy Anderson is a worthy favourite to be England’s top bowler but it’s possible that India may attempt to ‘see him off’ and attack the other end which could reduce the risks taken against him. He looks short enough.
Hales' price in the batting betting also offers little value given that he’s going to be making his international debut in this format, while Alastair Cook – favourite with many firms – hasn’t done enough to convince that he’s back to his best, especially given this format has never played to his strengths.
There’s more appeal in the Indian side where Virat Kohli is fancied to oblige as India’s top bat.
Suresh Raina has a good record against England but has been struggling for form, as have Shikhar Dhawan ad Rohit Sharma, and there’s plenty of pressure on them with the World Cup looming.
There is pressure, too, on Kohli after an abject Test series but he’s not a player who has ever been short of confidence and there were signs that he had freed himself from the shackles with a half-century against Middlesex this past week.
He is a classy operator who averages over 50 in ODIs, 47 against England and 46 in England. He has a point to prove and is more than capable of doing so in this series.