India target No1 ODI ranking as they prepare for three-match series against England

Sudhir Gupta 10/07/2018
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India, already the No1 Test and No2 T20 team in the world, will target the top spot in ODI rankings when they lock horns with England in the three-match series which begins in Nottingham on Thursday.

India are currently placed second in ODI rankings on 122 points, four behind top-ranked England.

If Virat Kohli’s team win the series 3-0, they will rise to the top spot in 50-over cricket. If England manage to win by the same margin, they will extend their lead at the top to 10 points.

That’s not all. Seven of the 10 teams participating in the 2019 World Cup will be in action from this week until August 12.

Zimbabwe host Pakistan for a five-match series, West Indies will play three Bangladesh at home while the Sri Lankans take on South Africa in five matches.

Pakistan – placed fifth on 102 points – will need to beat Zimbabwe 4-1 to ensure they don’t fall behind Australia who are sixth on 100 points.

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ODI series will bring more fireworks and other England and India T20 series takeaways

Ashish Peter 10/07/2018
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The T20 series was full of fireworks from both sides.

The three-match T20 series between England and India came to a conclusion at Bristol on Sunday with the visitors sealing a 2-1 series win after thumping the hosts by seven wickets.

It was a series which lived up to its reputation of featuring two of the best white-ball cricket teams in the world at the moment with the pendulum swinging from one side to the other.

With the three-match ODI series getting underway on Thursday, we look at what the T20s have taught us.

INDIA’S PACE OPTIONS DWINDLING

While Virat Kohli’s men might have laid down a marker for the rest of the summer, they did so at a cost. The visitors were dealt a big blow even before the start of the series with Jasprit Bumrah being ruled out due to a broken thumb.

There was further setback when Bhuvneshwar Kumar was ruled out of the decider with a stiff lower back. Bhuvneshwar has been struggling with back issues since the IPL this year and given the fact that he will play a crucial role in the five-match Test series, India are likely to tread very carefully with how they manage his workload in the ODI series.

With Bumrah now being ruled out of the ODI series as well and Shardul Thakur being called up as a replacement, India are low on gas when it comes to their pace battery.

India will be sweating it over Bhuvneshwar's fitness woes.

India will be sweating over Bhuvneshwar’s fitness woes.

EXPECT MORE FIREWORKS IN THE ODI SERIES

There was little to choose between the two teams in the T20s. Batsmen from both sides impressed in the three matches with Rohit Sharma, Kohli and KL Rahul looking good for India while Jos Buttler and Jason Roy were equally impressive for the hosts.

With Ben Stokes returning to England’s set-up, the hosts will be bolstered for the ODI series where they come in as the No1 ranked team in the format. Memories of their 5-0 whitewash over the Aussies will be fresh where they amassed big scores like they were going out of business.

The 50-over clashes could see runs flow once again and with the first match taking place at Trent Bridge – the venue where England registered their world-record 481-6 against Australia – the tone for the rest of the series could very be set at the start.

The ODI series should be an equally hard-fought affair.

The ODI series should be an equally hard-fought affair.

KULDEEP REMAINS A ‘MYSTERY’

How England would handle India’s wrist-spinners, especially Kuldeep Yadav, was a big talking point before the start of the T20 series. In the first game, he bamboozled England’s top-order with figures of 5-24 as the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root struggled to pick his googly.

England showed better application against Kuldeep in the second T20 where they played him off the back foot . That would be the last contribution from Kuldeep in the series with Kohli leaving out the youngster in the decider.

While the reasons for him being dropped remain a mystery, the question of whether England have figured Kuldeep out remains unanswered. In fact, Kohli might have heightened the mystery surrounding the young spinner by keeping him out of the final T20.

Kuldeep Yadav could still be India's trump card in the ODIs.

Kuldeep Yadav could still be India’s trump card in the ODIs.

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Rohit Sharma's Bristol brilliance can't hide Team India management's selection mistakes

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Kuldeep Yadav was dropped from the side for the third T20 in Bristol.

The Indian team management has done many things right over the past couple of seasons. The insistence on higher fitness levels, the development of a strong fast bowling unit and the creation of a large pool of match-ready players across formats are some of the biggest achievements. It is the result of those initiatives that the Indian team is the No1 team in Tests and ranked second in both ODIs and T20s.

But there is one area where the Indian management has fallen short on more than one occasion and that is team selection. It might seem ridiculous to suggest that one of the most consistent teams across formats over the past two seasons doesn’t get the team combination right every time, but just hear me out.

In the beginning of the year, Virat Kohli decided to drop in-form seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the second Test against South Africa despite him taking six scalps in the first. Kohli argued with the media but refused to admit it was a clear mistake. In the third Test, Bhuvneshwar came right back into the team, scored 63 runs on a treacherous Jo’burg wicket and picked up four wickets in a famous win. During that South Africa Test series, Ajinkya Rahane – India’s most consistent overseas batsman for multiple seasons – played just one Test.

Come to the tour of England and Ireland and the pattern continues. Wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik has played just one T20 out of five despite being the star of the Nidahas Trophy T20 final against Bangladesh in March, where he belted 29 not out from eight balls chasing 167.

In the deciding T20 of the series in Bristol on Sunday, the management decided to drop Kuldeep Yadav – man of the match in the first T20 – owing to the small boundaries at the venue. The same bowler who had snared five wickets in Manchester wasn’t considered a good choice one match later.

Cricket is a simple game if you decide to keep it that way. You select your best players and back them to deliver irrespective of opposition. If your best attack includes two spinners, then two spinners it is.

India won the deciding T20 handsomely, but it could have gone so wrong. India had two inexperienced quicks in Siddarth Kaul and debutant Deepak Chahar. To enter such a crucial match without Kuldeep, with Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar already injured, was an unwise move which – luckily for them – didn’t backfire.

India have enough quality to overcome most challenges. But if they keep making such incredulous selection decisions, it will cost them dear one day.

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