One-day international and Test cricket might be worlds apart but there is no doubt England go into the first match of the upcoming five-game Test series, beginning at Edgbaston on August 1, with far greater momentum and confidence.
Morale-boosting, back-to-back ODI victories to clinch a 2-1 series victory against India showed just why the Three Lions are the number one-ranked side in the format.
Evident on Tuesday at Headingley was steely determination, the kind of substance that will be needed if England are to win a World Cup on home soil and finally break that duck in less than 12 months’ time.
Individually, Joe Root, the man who will of course lead England in the Test format in the second half of the British summer, should reap the benefits of having rediscovered his best form and eloquence at the crease.
The boost of consecutive, unbeaten ODI hundreds can be carried over into the game’s longest format as England look to make their recent record – six defeats in eight Tests under Root’s captaincy – a thing of the past.
On the other end of the spectrum, India’s all-format skipper and hero Virat Kohli has some job to do to lift the spirits of his team.
He admitted his charges just weren’t at the races for what was a winner-takes-all ODI clash when they should have been.
The 29-year-old Kohli, who was victim of a Shane Warne v Mike Gatting ‘Ball of the Century’ moment courtesy of England’s Adil Rashid, has looked a class apart but after falling again to spin, on 71, he has shown unusual frailties against pace off the ball and left a trail of getting out when well set and not reaching three figures. Very unlike him.
That disappointment won’t hurt as much as India’s no show in Yorkshire.
Poor fielding and dropped catches lathered unwelcome icing on a cake which already included limp batting and bowling efforts.
Keeping the standards high, the bar well set and everything in sync is no mean feat as the wheels can go off a lengthy cricket tour pretty quickly. You sense though that will not happen under Kohli’s watch.
Kuldeep Yadav’s leg-spin has not featured for India in Tests since August 2017 but his wait is set to be over after being included in the squad on Wednesday. The 23-year-old has the ability to bowl wrong’uns against left-handers in what will be an England Test line-up featuring plenty of them: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes.
A return of 0-55 in the finale will probably work against him as well as being an indicator that Root, undoubtedly England’s key Test player, grabbed some kind of handle on his deliveries. Kohli seemed to agree and will likely trust his instincts and employ the experience of Ravi Ashwin for the Tests.
Yadav’s inclusion, exciting a prospect as he is, could come in the role as a second spinner and in that case it will be a straight shootout between him and Ravindra Jadeja – the man who cooked up in a storm with James Anderson the last time the subcontinent giants toured England back in 2014.
TEAM NEWS: #TeamIndia for the first three Tests against England announced #ENGvIND. Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the 3rd ODI. His condition is being assessed & a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon. pic.twitter.com/lhlF65VRUP— BCCI (@BCCI) July 18, 2018
However, he is somewhat undercooked this time having not featured since the one-off Test against Afghanistan in June. Jadeja will have to make good use of any limited warm-up preparation.
A greater concern will be Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s form, with the 28-year-old pacer enduring a tough tour in limited-overs cricket in Ireland and England – claiming just one wicket in three T20s and one ODI – and now struggling with injury. He struggled with the new ball, so it perhaps heightens the importance of the reliable Mohammed Shami and possibly Ishant Sharma, who has enjoyed a county spell with Sussex over the English summer.
Most crucially, India need a fit and firing Jasprit Bumrah at their disposal but there is serious concern the 24-year-old seamer will be touch and go having missed the 50-over matches due to surgery on a broken thumb. He adds that extra bit of pace and surprise factor India will need. Kohli himself has a point to prove in England while KL Rahul has everything at his disposal to have a good series as does Rohit Sharma.
The form of Shikhar Dhawan is an issue but India need to dust themselves down from this series defeat, think back to what they done well in the IT20s and make sure they are fired up as much as possible for what is going to be an intriguing Test spectacle.
Chris Woakes made an encouraging return to first-class action, but it was Matthew Fisher who impressed most with the ball for England Lions against India A on day two of the four-day encounter at Blackfinch New Road.
Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes, who suffered quadricep and knee injuries during the second Test against Pakistan last month, made a Second XI comeback for his county last week, but this was his first major opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of the forthcoming Test series against India.
The 29-year-old was the fifth bowler used and sent down seven successive overs at a lively pace for a cost of 16 runs and with no apparent ill-effects.
However, it was Fisher who was rewarded for a testing initial six-over spell which brought him the wickets of Mayank Agarwal and India A skipper Karun Nair on a day of contrasting fortunes to Monday.
The lions had resumed on 310 for two but, under cloudier skies, batting was a different and more challenging proposition on Tuesday and their last eight wickets went down for 113 in 40.5 overs.
Dawid Malan, released from the senior one-day international squad to get in some red-ball practice before the first Test, added only 15 to his overnight 59 before playing on to Mohammed Siraj. Paceman Siraj went wicketless on day one but ended with figures of four for 79.
Only Prithvi Shaw (62) then passed the half-century mark for the tourists, who closed on 144 for four.
Eoin Morgan’s men simply outclassed the visitors in all departments at Leeds as they made up for the disappointment of losing the T20 series.
After restricting India to 256-8, the hosts ran out comfortable victors as they notched up the target in just shy of 45 overs.
Here, we look at the key talking points from the deciding ODI.
DHAWAN’S RUN-OUT WOES CONTINUE
Shikhar Dhawan has not had the best of series with the left-handed opener struggling to convert his starts. On a day when India lost Rohit Sharma early after a cautious start, they really needed Dhawan to score big for once. It looked like the opener was going to rectify his mistakes as he sauntered to 44 with some confident strokeplay.
However, disaster struck soon for Dhawan and India when Virat Kohli bunted the ball towards mid-wicket in the 18th over off Adil Rashid. Kohli took a step-forward to go for a quick-single but then immediately changed his mind and held up his hands.
By then, Dhawan had already raced away to the middle of the pitch and by the time he could turn around and dash for safety, Ben Stokes picked up the ball in a jiffy and dislodged the stumps with a superb direct hit. It was the second time in the tour that Dhawan had been run-out in similar fashion after facing the same fate in Cardiff during the third and final T20 series match.
Second time on this English tour that Shikhar Dhawan has been run out in lazy fashion! #ENGvIND— Anthony Morgan (@anthfieg1) July 17, 2018
KOHLI FALLS TO SPIN ONCE AGAIN
For a player who is considered to be one of the best players of spin in the world currently if not the best, Kohli’s vulnerability to the slower bowlers in the series has been surprising to say the least.
In the first ODI, he was well-set with a half-century before being completely outfoxed by a leg-spinner from Rashid. In the second 50-over contest at Lord’s, he failed to connect with an off-spinner from Moeen Ali and was trapped on the pads.
On Monday, the India skipper was once again looking in supreme touch despite others around him faltering. The 29-year-old had raced away to a run-a-ball 71 and was looking good for his 36th ODI ton before Rashid produced a ripper of a leg-spinner to take out his off-stump. Queue a bewildered look, reminiscent to that of Mike Gatting all those years ago after Shane Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’.
India’s hopes of salvaging a big total all-but went after Kohli departed the crease.
RASHID SHINES AS DHONI STRUGGLES ONCE AGAIN
Before the start of the series, there looked like being only one winner in the battle between India’s batsmen and England’s spinners in Rashid and Moeen Ali. However, after three matches, it is the England spinners who have come out having the last laugh.
The leg-spinner was in terrific form at Headingley as he accounted for three big dismissals that set India back big time. While his delivery to take out Kohli was one for the ages, he also had the beating of the well-set Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina.
Meanwhile, MS Dhoni’s struggles to up the scoring-rate continued in Leeds with the India stalwart sluggishly getting to a 66-ball 42. After being booed for his low-scoring rate at Lord’s, the wicketkeeper-batsman once again looked like a shadow of his former self.
Moeen and Rashid prospered while Dhoni struggled as they ran through their overs quickly with the veteran out in the middle. It was a smart plot by Morgan to bowl out his spinners with Dhoni unable to bring out the big hits but, more importantly, it was a damning indictment of the 37-year-old’s waning powers with the bat.
ROOT AND MORGAN MAKE IT LOOK EASY
In a modest chase of 257, Jonny Bairstow had already won half the battle for England after the opener slammed seven boundaries in his 13-ball cameo 30. From then on, the hosts cruised to the target as Joe Root and Morgan came together. The former continued from where he left off at Lord’s as he handled India’s wrist-spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav with consummate ease.
The right-hander showed his class yet again as he brought up his second consecutive ton with the series-clinching shot while Morgan too, looked in supreme touch against the spinners as the Men in Blue were left bereft of any answers against the pair.
The pair stitched together their ninth century partnership since the 2015 World Cup, the most by any double-act in the same period in world cricket, as they led England to the most comfortable of wins in a crunch deciding clash.