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V.V.S. Laxman column: England can be a handful in one-day contests

Onus on Yadav, Chahal to pick up the wickets in middle stages

VVS Laxman, Special to Gulf News
18:58 July 11, 2018
England's players leave the field after defeat to India

Team India came through another test of character with flying colours by clinching the Twenty20 series against England with a convincing win in the decider. It was India’s eighth victory in a three-match T20 series, reiterating the confidence within the group, especially when it comes to crunch games.

England started brilliantly against an inexperienced pace attack with Bhuvneshwar Kumar also missing through back spasm. I was a little surprised to see Kuldeep Yadav left out only one game after his match-winning performance in Manchester, but I am sure he and Yuzvendra Chahal will have a big role to play in the ODI series.

England looked on course for 225 after reaching 100 in the 10th over, but the Indian bowlers came back superbly. After going for 22 in his first over, Hardik Pandya regrouped brilliantly by altering his length and bowling into the pitch to end up with four wickets, while the rest rallied around him.

Even though England probably ended up 20-25 runs short, it is never easy to chase down 200, and that too with the series on the line, never mind if it was a flat track and a small ground. But the way Rohit Sharma started, only one result was possible. He showed intent from the first ball and when he is in that frame of mind, it is seldom that he leaves the job unfinished.

Next up is the 50-over showdown, and I expect another cracking set of contests. England are the No. 1 team, a far more dangerous proposition in the one-day game, and they will be encouraged that India’s pace attack is a little weakened with Jasprit Bumrah out injured and ‘Bhuvi’ an uncertain starter. While this offers Umesh Yadav and Siddarth Kaul the opportunity to step up and shoulder the responsibility, the onus will be on the two wrist spinners to take wickets in the middle stages.

India’s batting looks in good health and barring the unforeseen, I don’t anticipate too many changes. There is plenty of class and experience, and several batsmen haven’t had much to do in the five T20s on tour so far. I would, however, love for Lokesh Rahul to continue to bat at No. 3 in the One-day Internationals as well like he did in the T20s.

He has too much to offer the team, and if he can bat at No. 3 and Virat can stay on at No. 4, England will have more than a fight on their hands.