“Dawid Malan is the No1 T20 batsman in the world and it’s no fluke, he’s been outstanding for us in that position for us. The same question comes when people talk about where I should bat or Jonny should bat, we have a wealth of talent in white-ball cricket and lots of guys who want to face as many balls as possible.”
England have dominated the spinners, hitting India’s slower bowlers at eight an over in two games and their batting skills run deep. They are confident and stick to their all-out attack mantra. But the “way we play” message does wear thin when England lose like they did in the opening ODI, a game they had in the bag but continued at full throttle when they could have coasted home.
Pune is a good batting pitch with little turn so not an ideal venue for India to drag England into a different game, which is the best way of beating them. Instead India need to be a little less cautious in the first half of their innings and bat with the zeal they showed in the T20 series.
“T20s and ODIs are as close as they’ve ever been,” said Buttler. “T20 has given people a greater understanding of risk and reward, and that’s coming into the 50-overs games, especially six-hitting capability and boundary-hitting capability, the guys’ attitude to risk is probably quite different compared to how it was a number of years ago. T20 has made people realise they can operate at a level above what they used to be able to do, for longer periods of time, and bringing that into 50-over cricket.”
Mark Wood should come back in the side, ideally for Tom Curran whose slower ball variations have been decoded by opponents. He now faces the challenge of his career to work on his tricks and conceal his intentions better.
Wood will add pace and bounce, and provide England with a right arm, left-arm opening combination with Reece Topley, who is quicker and gets more bounce than Sam Curran. Wicket-taking is England’s problem. Moeen averages 51 in ODI cricket with the ball, Tom Curran 40.40, his brother 44.00, and Ben Stokes 41. But with so much batting England can never be written off, regardless of the totals they are set.
England (possible) Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.
India (possible) Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shadul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna.