India and England will battle it out in the limited overs series in July. India will be playing 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs against the English team, before facing them in 5 Tests in August.
England recently demolished Australia 5-0 in the ODI series at home and showed near invincibility in their game. The series included the world record score of 481 hit by England and many other batting records created by English batsmen. Even the English spinners found success against a hapless Australian batting.
India will not be intimidated by the England batting lineup consisting of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler; almost all of whom got a hundred in the 5 match ODI series.
Bowling wise England showed that they can bowl out teams relatively cheaply, but the absence of Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes left them a little weak in firing power with the ball.
Indian team management has seen what England batting and bowling has done so far against Australia, winning 9 out of 10 ODIs played recently. Therefore, they may very well prepare a detailed strategy for their opponents, to beat them in their own backyard.
Here are five things that India must focus on in order to beat England in the limited overs series
Get rid of England openers early
England’s openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow were amazingly aggressive against Australia in the recently concluded ODI series. Roy (304) and Bairstow (300) runs stamped their authority over Aussies bowling in the power play with some audacious hitting. Their strike rates in the series were 118.28 for Roy and 133.33 for Jonny Bairstow; which are scary, to say the least.
In comparison to this, Alex Hales paled with 232 runs at 108.41 strike rate with one century. England has a set game plan of going at the opposition bowling right from the start. Well, the Australian bowling attack in the series wasn’t their A grade attack with Starc, Hazlewood, and Cummins all missing due to injuries.
However, India has probably one of the best fast bowling attacks in the ODI cricket when it comes to complimenting the conditions in England. In Bhuvneshwar, India has one of the best swing bowlers to take advantage of English bowling conditions. Siddarth Kaul can also swing the ball given the right conditions and in Umesh Yadav, India has a bowler who can move the ball in the air and off the pitch at a high pace. And then you have Bumrah, who has pace and bounce to keep batsmen in check on any sort of pitch.
All these bowlers should aim to remove the England openers as quickly as possible. Both Roy and Bairstow will go after the Indian bowling attack, but this will also provide an opportunity to the Indian bowlers to pick up early wickets, that will peg England plans back.
Put pressure on England batting using spin
As seen in the recent season of IPL, the England batting barring a few batsmen are really weak against quality spin. India has two very good spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who showed in South Africa, that they can spin the ball and extract bounce if the pitch didn’t support them and routed the Proteas.
Given that both Kuldeep and Chahal are wrist spinners, England might be wary of their abilities having experienced them in the IPL or by analyzing their bowling to the maximum extent. But India still has the edge when it comes to having quality spinners who can make or break the game for their team.
Kuldeep and Chahal also have very good economy rates and keep the runs down and increase the pressure on the England batting.
Keep rotating the strike during middle orders
Indian batting is famed all over the world as it has Shikhar Dhawan, one of the most aggressive openers in cricket, who loves batting in England and Rohit Sharma, the man with three ODI double hundreds. Next comes the best all-round batsman in the current era in Virat Kohli and then the likes of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina, who are the stalwarts of ODI cricket for India.
However, one thing all of these batsmen do is run well between the wickets. When it comes to rotating the strike and keep taking singles and doubles to keep the run rate good, there is none better than Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Suresh Raina.
These three know how to keep the runs coming during the middle overs when the field spreads and spinners try to get on the top. Raina, Virat, and Dhoni are quick between the wickets and keep turning the singles into doubles, by putting pressure on the fielders in the deep.
India has the advantage of better death bowling
England’s fast bowling attack didn’t have much to do thanks to their batting putting all the pressure on the opposition by putting up huge scores or chasing down totals easily.
Liam Plunkett picked 8 wickets in the series, David Willey picked 7 wickets in the series, Mark Wood 4 wickets and Sam Curran 2 wickets on his debut.
However, these bowlers were never really tested thanks to England spinners doing the most damage with Rashid and Ali both picking 12 wickets each in the series. England’s death overs bowling has been an area of problem and it wasn’t really tested by Australian batting which was missing Steve Smith and David Warner.
Against India however, they will be up against MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya and to bowl to them in death overs will be a big task for England bowlers.
Also when compared to England's death overs bowling, India’s bowling in end of the innings will see the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking the spotlight.
Both of them are considered to be the best death overs specialists and have the record and skills to back that claim. Yorkers, slower balls, and knuckleballs will be bowled at will and English batsmen might not have an easy time against a potent Indian attack this time around.
India should opt to bat first
India has seen how England plays while batting first and chasing both in the last few limited overs matches. This has given India an idea on how to go about their strategy. Now, if India wins the toss, they should opt to bat first and defend the target.
England has found a nice little strategy of winning toss and batting first. This gives the license to their batting to let loose and put up ridiculous scores like 481 on board. If the pitch gives some assistance, then Australia showed that England batting is fragile enough to be put under pressure chasing even 205 runs.
This is the strategy that India should follow in the limited overs series. Put the England batting under pressure to chase a target instead of setting one when you don’t have to worry about making runs at a certain required rate and make plans to have wickets in hand and all those things.
India has a potent bowling attack enough to defend a decent target and under lights, unlike India where dew comes on, it actually assists the bowlers, both spinners, and quicks in the second innings.