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In Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team, England’s ODI revolution faces biggest test

The 4-1 hammering of holders Australia in their backyard followed by England’s first-ever 5-0 whitewash of their arch-rivals showed Eoin Morgan’s record-breaking side is ruthless, and ready for its biggest test next year.

cricket Updated: Jul 01, 2018 09:33 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Virat Kohli,Indian cricket team,England cricket team
England’s upcoming series against India provides them with an opportunity like no other to run their final checks before the 2019 Cricket World Cup. (AFP)

From the ignominy of a first-round exit in the 2015 World Cup to emerging as arguably the most formidable team for next year’s edition, no other team has undergone a transformation as drastic as England have, something that will face a huge test against a formidable India.

No doubt the England cricket team resembled a side of a past era in the last World Cup, which they exited after a humiliating defeat to Bangladesh in the first stage. Since then, sweeping changes in their approach — at times compromising on Test cricket — and focus to be the best in 50-over cricket have landed England on the top of the ICC rankings.

The 4-1 hammering of holders Australia in their backyard followed by England’s first-ever 5-0 whitewash of their arch-rivals showed Eoin Morgan’s record-breaking side is ruthless, and ready for its biggest test next year.

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England’s resurgence didn’t happen overnight. Some brave selection calls ensured they have the right horses for the race, not necessarily due to what the reputation from other formats promised.

THE PURGE

Alastair Cook and James Anderson are among the best cricketers England have produced, but doing away with Test specialists circa 2015-16, foundation was laid for a team that would comprise only those who played with aggression and power, and could dominate. Ian Bell went out of reckoning post-2015 World Cup. Stuart Broad lost the race in 2016.

The appointment of Australian Trevor Bayliss as coach proved a masterstroke. Bayliss encouraging players to go with natural aggression and a clear mind has yielded rich dividends. The acknowledgement of IPL’s importance, making players available for a full run in the world’s best T20 league, has helped England find some gems like Jos Buttler.

In Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow, they have found men who can do a similar job no matter what the combination is at the top.

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England arguably bat deeper than any other ODI team at present. From Liam Plunkett’s last-ball six to tie a thriller against Sri Lanka two years ago to Jake Ball stonewalling Australia at Manchester last week, England have shown they can pull off wins sans panic.

While Roy, Buttler, Bairstow and others have dominated, the classical Joe Root has amassed close to 2,800 runs in 59 games since the last World Cup — only behind Virat Kohli (3,051 runs in 50 matches). Chris Woakes, the world No 1 ranked bowler), has the pace and variation to trouble any batsman.

NUMBERS COUNT

England have been superior on several counts; their 46 wins in 68 ODIs in the last three years are most than any. Root is the second highest ODI run-getter since the last World Cup and leg-spinner Adil Rashid’s 104 wickets in 64 games is the most scalps for a bowler in this period.

England now hold the two best ODI scores — the highest (481/6) was set barely a fortnight ago. They have scored 300 or more 31 times in the last three years — thrice in excess of 400, and 350 has been achieved 11 times.

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Despite all the success, it remains to be seen how far England go in ICC tournaments, having failed in the last two. The defeat to West Indies in the 2016 World T20 final was followed by an abject loss in the Champions Trophy semi-final at home to Pakistan last year.

The upcoming series against India provides them with an opportunity like no other to run their final checks.

First Published: Jul 01, 2018 08:22 IST