England v India 5th ODIJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
England and India square up to each other for the final ODI this summer this Friday with the visitors eyeing the chance for a rare series whitewash.
Alastair Cook is again under immense pressure with the World Cup just six months away and his team’s preparations in disarray following a crushing loss by 9 wickets at Edgbaston.
Calls for the skipper to be sacked have increased with Michael Vaughn using his Telegraph column to say, “If he (Cook) is not going to stand down then the tough call has to be made.”
He continued, “If he is not willing to resign and Whitaker and Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, can’t see that a change needs to be made, then I seriously question the vision of the men making decisions in English cricket.”
England have at times during the series looked rudderless, out of ideas and lacking the kind of aggressive approach which saw India cruise to their target in the last game in a mere 30 overs.
Cook and his men will have to find a way of putting more runs on the board, as it is clear that scores of anything less than 300 will simply not suffice against players who have honed their power hitting in the IPL.
That means a middle order of Balance, Root, Morgan and Buttler needs to fire, especially during the Power Play overs. For their big hitters to make a mark, the opening partnership between Cook and Hales must set a solid platform and score quickly to relieve some of the pressure exerted by India’s skilful spinners later in the game.
For India’s part they will be extremely happy with their recent One Day success, giving their fans something to cheer about after the nightmare Test series they were forced to endure.
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar summed up the mood well when in an interview with the Hindu, he remarked on the Indian side’s chances at the World Cup, “India is definitely among the strong contenders for the title. It is a well-balanced side and is tough to beat, it is a versatile ODI team. There is depth in batting and variety in bowling. And the fielding has been brilliant.”
While MS Dhoni eyes a whitewash, Alastair Cook will again need a strong performance to silence his critics.
Players to watch:
Eoin Morgan is widely tipped as England’s captain in waiting should Cook be asked to step aside. A strong outing showcasing his dynamic hitting at Leeds would do his cause no harm. Moeen Ali was one of the few bright spots in an abject English batting effort in Birmingham, scoring a fluid fifty. He gets another chance to push his case for a position higher up the order.
For India the return of Suresh Raina has been a masterstroke with the stylish left hander scoring with ease, bringing energy in the field and chipping in with crucial wickets with his off breaks.
It would take a brave punter to back England in the final ODI and the view from the bookies have them at 6/5 for the win on Friday. If you’re looking for a better value bet, Alex Hales is 7/2 with Paddy Power to be top run scorer for England, while Suresh Raina gives superb value at 5/1 to be top scorer for the visitors.