England and India will finally get the chance to resume hostilities in the 50-over format of the game in Cardiff tomorrow, with the weather forecast positive and promising to make last weekend's ODI-washout a distant memory.
Consistency the Key for Both Teams
Lately, England's limited overs performances have been fairly disappointing, the fact that the hosts have won just 2 ODI series during this time out of the 7 played since the start of 2013, itself is proof of that.
Except for mainly Ian Bell, Jos Buttler and James Anderson the whole team has lacked the consistency factor, something that Alastair Cook's men would like to rectify as quickly as possible to be right on track for the ICC World Cup.
India on the other hand have been slightly better, winning 3 ODI series (all at home though) and the Champions Trophy too they have been pathetic on their recent tours to South Africa and New Zealand with just about everyone being clueless. The Men in Blue too would like to strike form against the swinging ball.
England Need a different approach
One of the major reasons of England's repeated limited overs cricket failure is the antediluvian approach towards this format, according to which you only accelerate in the end.
Players like Cook, Joe Root and Gary Ballance have failed considerably to take advantages of the fielding restrictions and as a result, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara and Jos Buttler have often had to bear the load of acceleration (which has affected their form) towards the later part.
Obviously, if Cook's men want to win the World Cup, they have all got to fire right from the 1st ball they face or it could be a complete horror. Though the inclusion of Hales could just about solve this problem, but we can't expect him to do the job everytime.
Bowling at the death a worry for India
One of the most worrying problems for any team is bowing at the death, when it matters most. In India's case too, the very death bowling has cost them matches and at times, series too. Indian bowlers' attempted yorkers have been all full-tosses and as a result, they have conceded over 100 runs in the last 10 overs on numerous occasions. Wonder what a player like Buttler would do to them if those balls are bowled at him?
One to Watch:
Alex Hales: What excites me the most about this ODI series is Alex Hales. The exciting Nottinghamshire lad has taken English Cricket by storm as I said earlier. His inclusion at the top of the order makes this England side slightly more dangerous because if Hales gets going, the total is more likely to be around 320. No bowler would want to bowl at him at all and especially after considering the fielding restrictions. With 5 centuries in his last 11 innings across all the formats, it could be his series.
Virat Kohli: The superstar of this Indian batting line-up, Kohli is one of the best players in the shorter formats of the game. The right-hander has already drawn comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar and that just about proves what he actually is. Though he has been disastrous of late, there is every chance he could strike form in the format he almost entirely rules.
England without doubt go ODI series as favourites, having thrashed India by 3-1 in the Test series. India on the other hand have had all sorts of problems across all the aspects of the game and you add to this, they look short on confidence. My prediction for the series would be 4-0 England.
Expected XI (England): Cook, Hales, Bell, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Stokes, Jordan, Finn, Tredwell, Anderson.