London: Though India and England are on the road to prepare for Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November, there is also a 50-over World Cup to be hosted by the visitors in the same time period next year.
If India’s long-term planning for the One Day International (ODI) World Cup needed an initial push, then the upcoming three-match series against the world champions in this format of the game, starting from The Oval on Tuesday, is the perfect way for them to kick-start it.
For now, it is India, with their new, aggressive approach of batting in T20Is and fetching them 2-1 win over England, who come in as the favourites in the ODI series. This year, India have had a mixed bag in ODIs — lost 3-0 to South Africa in January before defeating West Indies by the same margin at home.
With the addition of ace opener Shikhar Dhawan, one can think of India to be stronger in the batting department despite Virat Kohli’s form facing intense scrutiny apart from the bowling department having a sorted look. “All matches are important for us. We can’t play thinking ODIs are not a priority, but we have to keep in mind the workload of each player. We will make changes but our ultimate goal is to win matches.
“We will not leave that thought process behind. For us, the aim is to understand white-ball cricket, how to play (as) new guys are playing. 50 over is an extension of T20 (cricket). Maybe you take less risk in ODIs as compared to T20 cricket but you have to take it,” asserted India skipper Rohit Sharma on importance of ODIs in a men’s T20 World Cup year.
England white-ball coach Matthew Mott has challenged the 50-over world champions to be “braver” in their ODI series after accepting they were “timid” during the recent Twenty20 series.
India won the three-match T20 campaign 2-1 but England are set to be reinforced by Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Test captain Ben Stokes for a three-game ODI contest starting at the Oval on Tuesday.
England have won all four of their Tests since a new red-ball leadership duo of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand captain took charge, including a seven-wicket win over India in the Covid-delayed fifth Test last week.
It has been a different story for the white-ball side since World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan announced his international retirement, with England losing matches at Southampton and Edgbaston ahead of October’s T20 World Cup in Australia before denying India a series sweep with a 17-run win at Trent Bridge on Sunday.
“What we’ve talked about was just being a bit braver and being prepared to make some mistakes,” said Mott.
“I think if anything we could have been accused of being a bit timid with the bat. From a batting perspective there is definitely a real attacking mindset and trying to push the barriers out there and get some big totals out there.”
Mott, previously in charge of Australia’s all-conquering women’s team, added: “And with the ball it’s more of the same as well. We’ve talked about being brave with the ball, taking some aggressive options, and then just weathering the storm when we need to.”
Root and Bairstow have been in outstanding red-ball form in an England Test side led by the aggressive Stokes, with the pair central to a 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand and the win over India.
The Yorkshire batsmen are now both averaging over 100 and Mott is looking forward to working with them, as well as fellow World Cup winner Stokes, this week.
“I don’t think they’ll have to change a hell of a lot the way they’ve been playing but it is a slightly different format,” said Mott.
“Having watched from the outside for a while they’re obviously world-class players.”
Mott — who started his reign with a 3-0 ODI series win in the Netherlands, which included England setting a new world-record score in the 50-over format — also had words of support for Jos Buttler after a difficult few days since he succeeded Morgan as full-time white-ball captain.
Questions have been raised over whether Buttler can lead England in T20 cricket in addition to opening the batting and keeping wicket.
“Whenever you come in to take over the team when you’ve had such a dominant leader for a long time, it’s a real feeling-out process where you’re working out how you do stuff,” said Mott.
“I’ve been really impressed with how Jos has done that and more impressed that he hasn’t actually got the runs but has still led really well...And, when he starts scoring runs, that conversation will die off pretty quickly.”
England: Jos Buttler (Captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Brydon Carse, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Craig Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Reece Topley and David Willey
India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh.