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India start as favourites against England
On a high after an impressive Twenty20 series win, an upbeat India will eye another dominant performance against hosts England in a three- match ODI series, which can be termed as a 'dry run' ahead of the World Cup next year.
With cricket's blue riband tournament scheduled to be held in UK next year, the ODI series will give Virat Kohli an ideal opportunity to get a drift about the conditions that his men are expected to encounter at exactly same time next year.
While India will be buoyed by their 2-1 T20 series win, England, the top ranked ODI team in world cricket, come into the series having crushed a below-par Australia 6-0 in their last bilateral engagement.
England have been one of the finest 50 over sides in recent times and India will have their task cut against a batting line-up comprising Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan. Add Ben Stokes to it and England bear a formidable look.
It is a reputation built on fearless, attacking cricket that has seen England win 46 out of 69 ODIs since a disastrous 2015 World Cup. Their last bilateral series' defeat came in India in January 2017, with only a freak one-off loss to Scotland in the interim.
The series will also enable Indian team management to mix and match the various combinations, keeping World Cup in mind.
KL Rahul's stupendous form has been a happy headache for the team management and there is a possibility that the captain might come at No 4 in order to give Rahul a chance to make optimum use of his current form.
Rahul scored a 70 against Ireland and followed it by an unbeaten 101 against England in the first T20.
He will, in all likelihood, be the missing jigsaw puzzle at the top of the order for skipper Kohli. With both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma being automatic selections at the top of the order, Rahul, who is also a specialist opener comes in at No 3.
If the same batting order is followed, skipper Kohli, who has been world's best ODI batsman by a distance, will have to drop himself a notch down at No 4.
The seasoned pair of Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni along with all-rounder Hardik Pandya are expected to form the middle-order.
For England, the series against Australia was a real morale booster where the team scored a world record total 481 in one of the ODIs.
The hosts have a penchant for high scores. Since that World Cup in Australia-New Zealand, this English batting line-up has accumulated 300-plus scores 31 times in 69 matches, inclusive of 23 wins. On 11 occasions, they have crossed 350 and have surpassed the 400-mark thrice.
It certainly won't be a walk in the park for India.
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