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England vs India: For Kohli's men, it will be a dress rehearsal for 2019 WC

Nottingham: On a high after an impressive Twenty20 series win, an upbeat India will eye another dominant performance against England in a three-match ODI series, which can be termed as a ‘dry run’ ahead of next year’s World Cup.

With the tournament scheduled to be held in UK next year, the ODI series will give Virat Kohli an ideal opportunity to get a drift about the conditions that his men are expected to encounter at exactly same time next year.

England has been one of the finest sides in recent times and India will have its task cut out against a batting line-up comprising Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan. Add Ben Stokes to it and England bears a formidable look.

England’s last bilateral series’ defeat came in India in January 2017, with only a freak one-off loss to Scotland in the interim.

K.L. Rahul’s stupendous form has been a happy headache for the team management and there is a possibility that the captain might come in at No. 4 in order to give Rahul a chance to make optimum use of his current form.

In this regard, Rohit Sharma said: “Speaking about Rahul batting at No. 3 or No. 4, I don’t know where he’ll bat in ODIs. Certainly he has been in great form. We have got to see tomorrow where he actually bats. It will either be No. 3 or 4. I don’t know where the captain wants to bat. That will be the most important question.”

He added that India can use the series as a learning curve ahead of the World Cup and that the series will tell them much about how they are placed in their bid to be crowned world champions for a third time.

“We have seen England against Australia and they were really high scoring games, it’s gong to be crucial to see where we are as a team. In the last year or so we have played some good cricket, in and out of India, this tour brings another challenge for us,” Rohit said.

The seasoned Suresh Raina and M.S. Dhoni, along with all-rounder Hardik Pandya, are expected to form the middle-order. If the management thinks of playing an extra pacer, Siddarth Kaul or Shardul Thakur might come into play. If Bhuvneshwar Kumar recovers from a stiff back, he will be sharing the new ball with Umesh Yadav.

For England, Buttler would like to continue his rich vein of form. Along with Roy, the duo will like to take advantage of the Powerplay overs.

The home team has a penchant for high scores. Since the World Cup, this English batting line-up has accumulated 300-plus scores 31 times in 69 matches, inclusive of 23 wins. On 11 occasions, it has crossed 350 and has surpassed the 400-mark thrice. 

England batsman Joe Root said: “India has been a really strong team in this format for a long time. They won (ODI series) last time they came over here. I know it was a very different side they played against but it is a really good marker to see where we are.”

It certainly won’t be a walk in the park for India.

The squads: 

 India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Iyer, Siddarth Kaul, Axar Patel, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

 England: Eoin Morgan (Capt.), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Jake Ball, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, David Willey and Mark Wood. 

Match starts: 5 p.m. IST. 

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