With two top ODI teams entering the series decider on Tuesday, July 17, at Headingley, Leeds, it has to be the clash of titans. The three-match series stands at 1-1 with visitors romping home in the first encounter and hosts coming back strongly in the second one. As the stage is set for the final showdown, both teams have plenty at stake. If Virat led India manages to pull off a victory here, it will be their 10th consecutive series win, whereas, the Englishmen, fresh from a 5-0 series win against Australia, will also be keen to keep their winning streak intact.
India’s batting frailties laid bare in the Lords encounter, thanks to the massive total and some disciplined bowling from the English bowlers, particularly pacers Liam Plunkett and David Willey. The opening duo failed to provide a solid start needed to topple the massive total, with Rohit falling to a rash shot and Shikhar unable to build on the start he got. The only resistance came from Kohli and Suresh who stitched together an 80-run stand for the second wicket. Although Pandya hit some quick runs, the middle order feel like a pack of cards. The bowling was also exposed badly, as Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and David Willey took it to the cleaners.
English batting worked like a charm for the most part. The openers gave a customary brisk start, allowing the middle order to play freely. Joe Root anchored the innings with a brilliant knock of 113, while Morgan and Willey hit their way to handy half centuries. The bowlers also responded to the team cause, maintaining a tight leash on the Indian batsmen. However, the hosts have their share of injury issues, as Jos Buttler, their batting mainstay, is unlikely to feature in the final ODI due to a laceration that he sustained in the previous match.
If Lords ODI is something to go by, England enters the series decider as the clear favourite, as it bats deep and can take wickets when needed. However, having the might in all departments of the game, India is too strong a team to be written off.