A week can seem like a long time with matches coming thick and fast. On July 5, England had their epoch-making moment in Test cricket by overhauling a target of 378 against India. Amidst England’s renaissance of sorts in the most extended format, they have been balancing on a tightrope in limited-overs cricket. At the start of the year, England slipped to a series loss in the shortest format versus the West Indies. Just a few days ago, India clipped England’s wings further by sealing the three-match T20I series at the same ground where the hosts had chased down 378. However, England did trounce lowly Netherlands 3-0 in an ODI rubber last month.

Due to the packed schedule and injuries, England hasn’t always been able to field their best XI this year and also their charismatic captain has decided to hang up his boots from international cricket. As India and England travel to London to play the first ODI, the 50-over champions would be confident that despite a few malfunctioning nuts and bolts, the base of their edifice structure is still strong.

There was an air of vulnerability surrounding England’s top-order in the T20I series but the hosts would believe Jason Roy is just one inning away from striking form. With Jos Buttler moving down the order in the 50-over format, Roy will be joined by Jonny Bairstow at the top. One of the silver linings from the T20Is was Reece Topley’s ability to vary his pace, mixing up his lengths and angles. His bowling smarts could also be seen in the West Indies where he was adept at bowling to set off-side fields.

England has picked Brydon Carse for the ODIs, and the Durham seamer’s role could be to fill Liam Plunkett’s shoes by bowling hard lengths. Moreover, the hosts also would be bolstered by the return of the star trio – Ben Stokes, Joe Root, and Bairstow – to the fold. Meanwhile, India has decided to take an alternative route in limited-overs by playing with more freedom. The cast is mostly the same but the theme of the plot seems to have changed a bit. India’s new batting blueprint could lead to the occasional crash-landing. But in the longer run, the ramped-up tempo is set to bring in rewards.

There are still a few areas of concern. One of them is Virat Kohli’s dip in form. Shreyas Iyer’s struggles against the short ball are another. India also would be missing the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who in turn generated appreciable swing to dismantle England’s top-order in the T20Is. In his absence, Mohammed Shami is set to join forces with Jasprit Bumrah. Prasidh Krishna could be the battering ram of the side. Arshdeep Singh’s left-arm angle provides another quiver to the fast bowling bow while Hardik Pandya’s all-around skills add further depth to the side.

When: England vs India, 1st ODI, July 12, 1 PM Local, 5.30 PM IST

Where: The Oval

What to expect: Generally, the decks at The Oval offer some bounce. Incidentally, since 2017, the team batting first has found enough success (seven wins to six losses) at the Oval in ODIs. Barring a few clouds on the horizon, the weather forecast predicts largely a clear day.

Team News:

England

Brydon Carse could get a look in, with Matt Parkinson as the frontline spinner. Liam Livingstone could take over the vacant middle-order spot left by the now-retired Eoin Morgan. Phil Salt and Harry Brook are the other options.

Possible XI: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (c, wk), Moeen Ali, David Willey, Brydon Carse, Craig Overton/Matt Parkinson, Reece Topley

India

Virat Kohli is in doubt with a groin niggle, Cricbuzz learns, and a decision on his participation will be taken on the morning of the match. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if India opts for more of an all-around team or pick the specialist pacer, Prasidh Krishna. The visitors also would welcome Shikhar Dhawan back into the fold.

Possible XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli/Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur/Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

Did you know?

– Since the 2019 World Cup, England has played only 21 ODIs. Among Full Members, only New Zealand (11), Pakistan (17), and Zimbabwe (18) have played fewer ODIs.

– Stokes, Player of the Match in the World Cup final, has only played in six ODIs since. Root, England’s leading run-getter in the tournament, has played only nine ODIs in that period.

– Since the Covid break in mid-2020, India has scored only one ODI hundred in all ODIs (home plus away) while they have conceded seven.

What they said:

“50-over cricket is an extension of T20 cricket. You might take slightly fewer risks than you do in T20s, but we have to take risks. It is not as if we won’t take risks. We need to get used to playing freely. When you try to play freely, it comes with its failures both in individual performance and in team results, but you get to learn a lot from that. We are looking at the bigger picture, not the small picture. As it is, in India, we are used to two-and-a-half-hour pictures. All these matches are crucial for us because somewhere we need to change something, and we can see things have started to change slightly,” Rohit Sharma on India’s new batting template.

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