The Men in Blue, already the top-ranked Test team, are all set to take over the No1 team ranking in the 50-overs format when the series comes to a conclusion, a feat which will give them the bragging rights in Tests and ODIs.
One more win from the remaining three games will make it nine bilateral series victories on the trot for Kohli’s men. Only one team in the history of ODI cricket has won more – the mighty West Indies side which won 14 bilateral series in succession between 1980 and 1988.
This run by India has included wins over New Zealand, England and Australia. In between this remarkable stretch, they also made it to the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in England last year before succumbing to Pakistan at the last hurdle.
Such dominance has made India early favourites for the 2019 World Cup along with hosts England. Naturally, comparisons are being made between the current Indian side and MS Dhoni’s team that lifted the 2011 World Cup on home soil.
Only two players remain from the 2011 side that beat Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai – former skipper Dhoni and the current leader. Three if you include Suresh Raina who is back in the T20 team.
Dhoni’s men had the luxury of having the great Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag open the batting. They are one of the most successful opening pairs in world cricket with 12 century stands between them in 93 matches. The current opening combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is right up there, with 12 three-figure partnerships already in 72 matches.
The current side also has the advantage of having the greatest one-day batsman of the modern era in Kohli. The skipper, having registered his 34th one-day ton, is poised to better Tendulkar’s tally of 49 ODI centuries – a mark which seemed unreachable at one point.
Kohli also boasts of a bowling attack capable of overpowering any opposition following the emergence of wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. Dhoni had to make do with Harbhajan Singh, who was already on his way down during 2011 campaign.
In Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, they have two pacers just as good if not better than Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel. The current new-ball pair has seen their stocks rise rapidly in limited-overs cricket with their ability to pick wickets at the start while being tight during the death overs.
Kohli’s squad looks almost ready with the World Cup now just over a year away. However, it is the middle-order that is still a concern. The likes of Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer have all been tried out at various times over the past few seasons but no batsman has sealed the spot.
Also, the 2011 side had the all-round capabilities of man-of-the-tournament Yuvraj Singh at their disposal. His explosive batting lower down the order along with crucial wickets through his left-arm spin were the driving force behind India’s victorious campaign.
Kohli and the team management will be hoping that Hardik Pandya improves his game by the time the World Cup starts. They also have to make do with a Dhoni whose is losing his edge with the bat. While the veteran remains one of the best keepers in the limited-overs format, the spark in his batting is long gone. This has seen India struggle to accelerate in the death overs.
Ultimately, while Kohli’s team is as good if not better than their 2011 counterparts in the top-order and bowling attack, they are missing a few crucial pieces.
Results indicate they are one of the best ODI sides India have produced but until they win a World Cup, they can’t be called the best. But they do seem well on their way towards becoming one.
Know more about Sport360 Application