Spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been named in India's side for the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl.

The Black Caps did not face a frontline spinner in a 1-0 Test series victory over England, but they will have to contend with two in Southampton.

Ashwin and Jadeja were named in a five-match bowling attack along with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah on the eve of an inaugural final that is due to start on Friday, but poor weather could result in an opening-day washout.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling are expected to be fit to return after missing the decisive second Test win over England at Edgbaston.

Watling will be playing in the final match of his professional career if he gets the nod to replace Tom Blundell.

Wednesday has been set aside as a reserve day in case a full five days cannot be completed and that may be required with rain and storms forecast.

New Zealand are top of the rankings and come into the game on a high after securing their first Test series win in England since 1999, hammering Joe Root's side by eight wickets early on day four.

They demonstrated their strength in depth by making six changes, with Matt Henry claiming the man of the match award after he was among the players to come into the side.

Skipper Williamson, who has been troubled by an elbow injury, is delighted with the strides his side have made and says there is more to come.

"There's been a lot of growth over a period of time so many challenges along the way every day but the team has bought into it and tried to move past those with a good attitude," the prolific batsman said.

"There is lot of hard work done over a long period of time to find ourselves here in the first final.

"It's exciting but for us it's just focusing on continuing that growth and trying to keep committing to the parts of our game that give us the best chance and that's where I know the guys will be focusing on. We are trying to look at the long game and try and improve all the time."

 

INDIA IN A QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE - KOHLI

Captain Virat Kohli says India will remain in a quest for excellence regardless of the outcome in the final.

He said: "For us as a team we have been on a quest for excellence for a while now. And we are going to continue to be on that path regardless of what happens in this game. We have no doubts whatsoever in our abilities and what we can do as a side.

"As an individual player, look, we won the 2011 World Cup which was a great moment for all of us. But cricket goes on. Just the way life goes on. And you have to treat failure and success the same way, and you have to treat the so-called outstandingly big moments pretty similar to the other moments as well.

"So, yes, it is an occasion that has to be enjoyed from our point of view, but it is not different for us or no more important for us than the first Test match that we played together as a young group of players back in the day when we were trying to come up the ranks. So, yes, the mindset remains the same."
 

BLACK CAPS SPOILT FOR CHOICE

New Zealand's bowlers tore through England in the second innings at Edgbaston, skittling them out for only 122 in another demonstration that the selectors are spoilt for choice.

Henry, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and India-born spinner Ajaz Patel did the damage as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson were among the players given a chance to put their feet up.

Pacemen Southee and Jamieson starred when New Zealand whitewashed India 2-0 last year.

Southee was named man of the match with match figures of 9-110 in the first Test at Basin Reserve and Jamieson picked up the award in the second match, taking 5-45 in the first innings. 

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The previous seven Tests matches between the two nations have seen each team pick up three wins (D1).
- India have lost each of their previous two matches at the venue against England, while this will be the Black Caps' first Test at the ground.
- Kohli's side have lost just one of their past seven Tests (W5, D1), the loss coming at home to England in February.
- No spinner has dismissed Williamson more times in Test cricket than Ashwin (five, also Pragyan Ojha). His false shot percentage of 21.9 per cent against Ashwin is his highest against any bowler he has faced a minimum of 150 balls.

Kane Williamson and BJ Watling are expected to be fit to play for New Zealand against India in the ICC World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl.

Captain Williamson missed the second Test of the series with England due to an elbow issue, while a back injury stopped wicketkeeper Watling from playing in that game at Edgbaston.

However, the duo have both been included in a 15-man squad for the decider with India, which begins on Friday.

There is also a place for Ajaz Patel as the specialist spinner ahead of Mitchell Santner, while Colin de Grandhomme is the all-rounder and Will Young will provide batting cover. Tom Blundell - who took over behind the stumps in Birmingham - will be Watling's understudy.

Along with Santner, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra are the other players to miss out on selection.

"There's had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"We’ve gone with Ajaz as our specialist spinner after an impressive outing at Edgbaston and we believe he could be a factor at the Ageas Bowl.

"Colin's been an integral member of our Test set-up for many years and it was great to see him return at Lord’s after a long injury lay-off. He’s a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon.

"Kane and BJ have certainly benefitted from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final."

Despite the absences of Williamson and Watling, a much-changed New Zealand side won the second Test against England, in the process securing a 1-0 series victory over their hosts.

The Black Caps are on an eight-match unbeaten run in the format, while India have lost just once in their previous seven Tests. In the past seven meetings between the countries, both have won three apiece to go along with a solitary draw.
 

New Zealand squad for ICC World Test Championship final: 

Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young

Jofra Archer is focused on being fully fit for the T20 World Cup and England's Ashes tour to Australia later this year as he looks to finally get his troublesome elbow injury sorted.

Pace bowler Archer underwent surgery last week and, as per a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board released on Wednesday, is to undergo an intensive rehabilitation period before being assessed again in around a month.

The 26-year-old's absence is a blow to England ahead of a busy home schedule in all formats, with New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India all visiting for tours in the upcoming months.

However, Archer will only make his comeback once completely healthy, a decision made with his long-term future in mind as he prepares to be patient.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place in October and November this year, with England then travelling Down Under the following month for the five-Test Ashes series.

"One thing I am determined about post-elbow operation is not to rush my comeback because my primary focus is to be playing for England in the T20 World Cup and Ashes later this year," Archer wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

"Those are my targets. If I come back before then and manage to play in the home Test series against India – then fine, so be it. If I don't, I am quite prepared to sit out the summer.

"The way I am looking at things is that I would rather miss a few weeks of a year so that I have a few more years in my career.

"I just want to get this injury sorted once and for all and that's why I'm not looking that far ahead or at dates for a return to action — because if I don't get this right, I won't play any cricket. Period.

"I am not going to do myself any good by coming back before I'm fully fit, so I will take my time and do what is best for me and my life."

Archer, who had an operation on a hand injury earlier this year, attempted to make a return to action in domestic cricket for Sussex recently, only to suffer a further setback with his elbow during the County Championship fixture at Hove.

He has taken 42 wickets at an average of 31.04 in 13 Test appearances for Joe Root's side, while he is a key member of England's white-ball squads under captain Eoin Morgan.

England have Tests against New Zealand at Lord's and Edgbaston in June, with a five-match series in the long format against India beginning at Trent Bridge on August 4.

Several players who appeared in the Indian Premier League will not be involved against the Black Caps, while wicketkeeper Ben Foakes joined Archer and Ben Stokes on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury when slipping in the Surrey dressing room on Sunday.

India and Punjab Kings batsman KL Rahul has been diagnosed with acute appendicitis which requires him to undergo surgery.

The 29-year-old opener was admitted to hospital on Saturday after suffering from discomfort in his abdomen.

No timeframe has been placed on his recovery but he will be absent from Punjab Kings' Indian Premier League fixture against Delhi Capitals in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

A statement from Punjab Kings said: "KL Rahul complained of severe abdomen pain and, after not responding to medication, he was taken for further tests which revealed that he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis.

"It will be resolved surgically and for safety measures he has been transferred to the hospital."

Rahul is the top runscorer in the 2021 IPL with 331 runs in seven matches at an average of 66.20 and a strike rate of 136.21.

He has the best all-time batting average in IPL history with 2,978 runs in 88 matches at 46.53 and a strike rate of 135.85.

The right-hand batsman has played 36 Tests, 38 ODIs and 49 T20 internationals for India.

 

West Indies legend Brian Lara has tipped for T20 captain, Jason Holder, as the Windies player who could shine most brightly in the India Premier League (IPL) this season.

 The all-rounder was retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for the new campaign, after only coming in as a substitute for Australian Mitchell Marsh last season.

Holder went on to score 66 runs, in seven matches, at an average of 33, and claimed 14 wickets, the third most on the team despite playing less than half the games.  Lara, who is part of a commentary panel for this season’s tournament, has tipped the player to carry on in the same vein.

“Jason Holder could do pretty well. He ended up replacing Mitchell Marsh in the 2020 IPL, so I expect him to maybe come up with trumps this year,” Lara told StarSports.

“The tracks are not so favourable to the pace where he is playing at present, but he is such a good all-round player that I hope he can maintain his play and really show that the West Indians are here to stay,” he added.

Holder could, however, have plenty of competition for the top West Indian player with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Nicholas Pooran also taking part in this season’s competition.

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced a new deal with India sports platform Fan Code, which will see the Dream Sports-owned product become the exclusive broadcasters of West Indies cricket in the Asian country.

The four-year partnership is expected to see fans of West Indies cricket in India given access to close to 150 international and 250 domestic cricket matches from the Caribbean.  The list will include 16 International West Indies Men’s Series, CG Insurance Super50 Cup matches, West Indies Women’s Home Series, and Under-19 International Cricket matches.

In addition to a list of upcoming international tour matches, the agreement will see the platform gain exclusive rights for the next India tour of West Indies in July 2022 (three ODIs and three T20 Internationals) and any subsequent India tours within the period.

President of CWI, Ricky Skerritt, hailed the deal as having the potential to bring West Indies cricket to millions of fans in India.

“We are delighted to announce this new partnership with FanCode,” Skerritt said.

“India is one of our close allies in the cricket world and a key player in the global sporting landscape so this new agreement will enhance our presence there and also bring millions of fans closer to our team and to the magnificence of West Indies cricket,” he added.

Commenting on the association, Yannick Colaco, co-founder of FanCode, admitted the company was excited to be associated with West Indies cricket.

“The Caribbean is home to some of the most entertaining cricket played in the world. We are excited to partner with Cricket West Indies and bring close to 400 matches from the Caribbean featuring some of world cricket's biggest and brightest stars, to Indian cricket fans. This partnership will give millions of cricket fans in India the opportunity to experience FanCode and the many digital innovations we are bringing to improve the sports fan consumption experience.”

 

England came up just short in the third ODI despite the best efforts of Sam Curran, meaning India secure a 2-1 series triumph to complete a clean sweep in all formats.

Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya all hit half-centuries as India - who had rallied to win 3-1 in the Tests, then 2-1 in the Twenty20 games – were bowled out for 329 in 48.2 overs.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck twice in the powerplay on his way to figures of 3-42, while Shardul Thakur claimed 4-67 in an England reply that looked doomed at 257-8.

However, with Mark Wood as an able ally, Curran continued to take the fight to India, making 95 not out. His defiant hitting – which included nine fours and three sixes - reduced the equation down to 14 from the final over, yet left-arm paceman T Natarajan held his nerve to seal a seven-run victory.

For the first time in the series, England had failed to build a foundation in a run chase. Openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow had put on 135 and 110 in the previous two games, only to both fall cheaply to the impressive Kumar in the finale.

Ben Stokes made 35 and Dawid Malan (50) hit a maiden ODI half-century – during which he added 60 with Liam Livingstone (36) - but wickets continued to fall regularly, leaving India in control.

Curran capitalised on some poor fielding to keep his side afloat – the hosts dropped four catches – but England were unable to end their tour on a winning note.

Having seen their opponents chase down a target of 337 with more than six overs to spare last time out, India adopted a more aggressive approach with the bat at the start of the day.

Openers Rohit Sharma (37) and Shikhar Dhawan zipped along at faster than a run-a-ball rate in a century stand that was eventually ended by a superb delivery from Adil Rashid, who bowled the former with a googly.

Rashid also dismissed Dhawan for 67 two overs later, while fellow spinner Moeen Ali cleaned up Virat Kohli cheaply with one that turned sharply to surprise India's captain, who saw his team slip from 103 without loss to 157-4.

However, Pant and Pandya went on the offensive in a 99-run stand that was eventually ended when wicketkeeper Jos Buttler reacted quickly to take an edge from Pant, who fell to Curran for 78 off just 62 deliveries. Pandya followed not long after for 64, bowled by Stokes.

Wood claimed three late wickets as India were bowled out with 10 deliveries to spare. It turned out they still had enough runs, despite Curran's heroics providing a thrilling finish to England's tour.

England confirmed Jofra Archer will undergo hand surgery while he recovers from an elbow injury, as his team-mates prepared for an ODI decider against India.

Archer was ruled out of the ODI series due to a worsening elbow issue and travelled home to the United Kingdom.

The fast bowler has since had a scan and a consultant review, which has prompted the decision to have a procedure on his right hand, while he has also had a further injection for his right elbow.

"The procedure on Jofra's hand will take place on Monday 29 March so he can recover during the planned break following his elbow injection," a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) read on Saturday.

"Jofra suffered a cut to his hand while cleaning at his home in January shortly before flying to India to prepare for the Test series.

"The injury was managed by the ECB's medical team through the tour and it did not impact on his availability.

"Further investigation and a specialist opinion was sought upon his return to the UK and, in conjunction with the ECB medical panel, it has been decided that surgery is the best option to manage his injury in the longer term."

As well as dealing with Archer's absence, England have been without captain Eoin Morgan since the first ODI after sustaining his own hand injury.

But stand-in skipper Jos Buttler was still waiting on news of the fitness of Sam Billings, who missed the second ODI with a bruised collarbone, and Mark Wood, who was rested.

England lost their four-match Test series against India 3-1 and were then beaten in a Twenty20 International decider to go down 3-2.

Tied at 1-1 ahead of the third and final ODI, Buttler is hoping for better luck as he targets a third successive win as captain for the first time. He has five victories from seven matches so far.

"We want to win all the games we play," he said. "It's great to be in another final, as such. Obviously the T20s went to a decider and this series will do the same.

"They're great games to be involved in, we're all very much looking forward to it. It was an excellent performance [on Friday], so we take lots of confidence into the game on Sunday."

Friday saw England claim a six-wicket win thanks to a superb chase led by Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes.

Bairstow (124), who has now hit an England record 26 sixes against India, had 100-run stands with both fellow opener Jason Roy and Stokes, as the tourists had two century partnerships in the same ODI for the first time since the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Bairstow and Roy reached the hundred mark for the 13th time in ODIs, the most ever recorded by an England duo, while they have the highest average (61.6) of any opening partnership in the history of the format (20-plus innings).

Led by the pair, England have outscored India 148 to 80 in the powerplays in this series.

"They're right up there, aren't they? Everyone will have their opinions on who's the best, but those two have been fantastic," Buttler said.

"The way they play, the pressure their put on an opposition, and the consistency... the way they do that, the fashion they play, it's quite remarkable really.

"They've created some fantastic stands. I don't know the exact numbers, but I know they're pretty impressive. We're all delighted to have them at the top of the order.

"People talk about the numbers a lot of the time, but for us it's more about the fashion we play in, committing to that and the numbers will always look after themselves."

Stokes certainly plays in the same fashion, his rapid innings seeing 50 runs off the first 40 balls and 49 off the next 11.

Asked how the display ranked among the white-ball efforts of an all-rounder who has averaged 56.4 in ODIs since the start of 2017, Buttler had a cheery response.

"It was certainly pretty impressive, wasn't it? He's had a few," the captain said. "His World Cup final one was pretty good. I enjoyed that one."

Virat Kohli had few complaints about India's performance against England on Friday, acknowledging Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow "blew us away".

India set England 337 to win and level the three-match ODI series, a total the tourists sped to carried by Stokes and Bairstow.

While opener Bairstow contributed 124, Stokes stole the show with 99 off just 52 balls - including 49 off the next 11 after reaching his half-century. He has averaged 56.4 over 42 ODI innings since the start of 2017.

The stand of 175 - after Bairstow and Jason Roy had put on 110 for the first wicket - saw England have two hundred partnerships in the same ODI for the first time since the Cricket World Cup in June 2019.

Although Stokes and Bairstow fell in consecutive overs and briefly gave India hope, Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone completed a six-wicket triumph with 39 balls to spare.

"I think we set up quite a decent total on the board," said captain Kohli, who scored 66 and remains one century shy of Sachin Tendulkar's record of 20 in men's ODIs in India.

"But England found a way to get that 100-run partnership and we hardly had any chances come our way.

"I thought they batted brilliantly well tonight. Yes, we did not execute some things as well as we wanted to, but that was some of the most amazing batting that you're going to see while chasing a total.

"You have to give credit where it's due and tonight they totally blew us away with that partnership of Jonny and Ben Stokes.

"We didn't even have a chance, that's how good they were together and they thoroughly deserved to win."

Bairstow has 20 sixes over his past three ODI innings against India and no England batsman has more maximums against them in this format than his 26.

The Yorkshire wicketkeeper was enthused by Kohli's praise, responding: "I'll take that! It's very kind of him to say that.

"He's been one of the best players around the world for a period of time. I'm very pleased, and likewise, pleased to be striking the ball the way I am at the moment."

Bairstow and Roy now have 13 century stands together, the most by an England pairing, while no opening partnership in men's ODIs can top their average of 61.6 (from 20 innings or more).

It is certainly a role Bairstow is enjoying, as he added: "I'm happy. Since opening the batting, I've got 11 [centuries], I think I've only opened 56, 57 times.

"I'm happy with those figures but those figures mean nothing if you don't keep converting them in the future. I'm happy with how I'm playing my cricket at the moment, really enjoying it."

Ben Stokes was proud that England stuck to their values as they roared back from a series-opening defeat to thrash India on Friday.

Moved up to bat at three in the absence of Joe Root, Stokes thrilled with a 52-ball 99 in Pune as the tourists won by six wickets with 39 deliveries to spare, Jonny Bairstow having scored a century as England comfortably chased down India's 336-6.

The result came on the heels of Tuesday's chastening 66-run loss, when England collapsed to 251 all out as Stokes scored just one run from 11 balls, and means the series will go to a decider on Sunday.

Stokes was delighted to see England produce such a classy response to that setback, even in the absence of injured captain Eoin Morgan, as his side stayed true to their attacking principles.

"I think the most pleasing thing for us as a team is we didn't go away from our values," he said, having built on the platform laid by Bairstow and Jason Roy's 110-run opening stand. "We were bitterly disappointed after the first ODI.

"It was a great chase and I'm happy we were able to go over the line fairly easily despite India putting up a big total.

"It was a better wicket but we don't really fear any totals to be honest. It would have been easy to rein ourselves in after the last game but from a personal and team point of view, it was important to play as we do.

"We speak about match-ups in our changing room and my match-up was with the spinners to take the risk, just let Jonny keep going on with his business. He's in unbelievable form.

"The amount of runs they [Roy and Bairstow] have scored is obviously amazing, but if you look at the way they have scored it's even better – best in the world in my opinion."

Pune will again play host to the third and final match this weekend.

England's victory on Friday also ensured that a 3-0 series defeat will be avoided, meaning India cannot leapfrog into top spot in the ODI rankings.

Ben Stokes' stunning innings and a century from Jonny Bairstow led England to a dominant six-wicket ODI victory over India in Pune on Friday.

While Bairstow was unquestionably impressive in compiling his 124, Stokes' 99 came at a blistering pace, requiring just 52 balls as he bludgeoned 10 sixes.

India had set England 337 to win and level the three-match series, with the tourists – deprived of the injured Eoin Morgan's services – wasting little time, getting the job done with 39 balls to spare.

Bairstow and Jason Roy put on 110 for the first wicket to lay the foundations, with the former then enjoying a front-row seat for the Stokes show as they combined for 175 runs.

It meant that, by the time Stokes and Bairstow fell in consecutive overs, England only required another 50 to seal the win, with Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone finishing things off.

All the fireworks in England's innings eclipsed what had been a solid 50 overs from the hosts, for whom KL Rahul top-scored on 108, with Rishabh Pant providing eye-catching entertainment in the form of a 40-ball 77 to help India to 336-6.

Having put themselves in a strong position to chase down 318 in the first match before collapsing to 251 all out, England made sure they had an even firmer footing this time to ensure a late-innings wobble would not prove pivotal.

Bairstow's 18 boundaries included seven maximums, with Roy's 55 coming at roughly a run a ball to further cement England's excellent start.

Stokes, having survived an early run-out scare, escalated things drastically with a display of explosive hitting that had India chasing their tails.

Krunal Pandya, who enjoyed such a fine debut in the opening clash, came in for particularly harsh punishment as he posted figures of 0-72 off six overs, while Kuldeep Yadav (0-84 off 10) conceded eight sixes, including three in a row at the hands of Stokes in a punishing 33rd over.

England's procession was slowed but not halted by a flurry of wickets across the 36th and 37th overs, with Stokes agonisingly falling short of a deserved century before Bairstow and Jos Buttler also had to go.

But it only delayed the inevitable, Malan and Livingstone steadying the ship and getting England across the line to set up a series decider on Sunday.

 

STOKES CAPITALISES ON LET-OFF

There was a mightily close run-out call against Stokes in the 26th over, when he was on 33.

He soon accelerated his knock at break-neck speed, having brought up his 50 off 40 deliveries before adding another 49 from only 12.

Stokes' dismissal, caught behind by Pant off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, saw him denied the third-fastest century in ODIs for England.

SERIES SET FOR FINALE IT DESERVES

This was a mouthwatering series on paper, pitting the world's best two one-day teams against one another, and it has delivered on the field across the first two matches.

World champions England flexed their muscles on Friday, having been chastened by an opening loss in which India showed why they are so highly fancied.

A winner will be crowned this weekend and, having seen the best of both sides, how fitting it would be if they could each bring their 'A' game on Sunday.

England captain Eoin Morgan has been ruled out of the remainder of the ODI series against India due to injury. 

Morgan required four stitches in his right hand after the batsman split the webbing between his thumb and index finger in an opening match that was won by India on Tuesday. 

England's white-ball captain took part in a fielding drill at the MCA Stadium on Thursday but declared himself unfit to feature in the two remaining contests in Pune. 

Jos Buttler will lead the team in the absence of Morgan, while Liam Livingstone is to make his ODI debut in the second match of the series on Friday. 

Morgan said: "I had the hand re-dressed before the start of training today [Thursday] but it quickly became apparent that I found myself protecting the injury and getting into the wrong positions to catch the ball. 

"There's nowhere to hide on the field in international cricket these days, especially in limited-over formats so it didn't require any great thought to make myself unavailable. 

"It was a freak injury and it's extremely frustrating but there's nothing I can do about it. It's now just a case of letting the cut heal. I have every confidence in Jos and the rest of the squad coping without me." 

Sam Billings will not feature in the second ODI and the batsman will be checked again ahead of the final encounter on Sunday, having bruised his left collarbone in a 66-run defeat on Tuesday. 

Dawid Malan, already in the touring party as cover, has been added to the squad.

Virat Kohli hailed "one of our sweetest victories" after India fought hard to overcome England by 66 runs in the opening ODI in Pune.

Man-of-the-match Shikhar Dhawan laid a solid foundation for India with an assured 98, missing out on three figures when he miscued a pull off Ben Stokes to Eoin Morgan at midwicket.

Kohli made a similarly fluent half-century but the hosts had stumbled to 202-5 when debutant Krunal Pandya joined KL Rahul in the 41st over.

Krunal (58 not out) laid waste to an otherwise impressive England bowling performance, his 26-ball fifty the fastest ever in a maiden ODI, while wicketkeeper Rahul similarly impressed with an unbeaten 62 as India posted 317-5.

England threatened to make short work of that total as Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) motored to 135 without loss inside 15 overs, before India's seamers turned the contest on its head.

Prasidh Krishna, also on debut, was the pick with 4-54, while Shardul Thakur's 3-37 accounted for the dangerous trio of Bairstow, Morgan (22) and Jos Buttler (2), and the excellent Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 2-30.

"That's one of our sweetest victories in the recent past. We haven't won many good games in ODIs," India skipper Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"It was a great comeback from all our bowlers after going for few runs early on. Prasidh was amazing, Krunal as well. Shardul, Bhuvi were amazing. I am a really proud man right now.

"The team showed great character and intensity. As I've mentioned in the past as well, we promote players who have intent and back their skills.

"A special mention to Shikhar's innings as well and KL was back among the runs. We want to back people who will do a selfless job.

"It's a healthy competition between everyone for every slot. We have two or three players available for every slot."

Perhaps not to quite the same extent, but world champions England have their own enviable depth of talent.

Nevertheless, the steadying hand of Joe Root at number three, where Stokes stepped up to be dismissed for one, and Jofra Archer's death bowling were certainly missed as both players undertake a period of rest.

As in the recent 3-2 reverse in the T20I series, captain Morgan was left to rue middle-order failings, with the plummet form 135-0 to 176-5 key in England's challenge fading to 251 all out with 47 deliveries unused.

Nevertheless, he stood by the aggressive approach that has brought his side so much recent success.

"I thought the bowlers were outstanding and there was a bit more on offer for their seamers," he said.

"The two openers were outstanding, but we failed to build on from that. We need to execute better than we did. India did really well and deserved to win.

"Being able to take the attack to the opposition is something that we pride ourselves on. We want to continue to push the envelope in that regard. It's better for us to lose like this than losing by 20 runs.

"The game is always moving forward, technology and fitness are moving forward, so we need to push hard as we can. It's important for us to dictate the way we play."

A magnificent and emotional ODI debut from all-rounder Krunal Pandya helped to give India an authoritative 66-run win in the series opener against England.

The tourists twice looked to have taken control of the contest – initially when India squandered the platform laid by Shikhar Dhawan (98) and stumbled to 202-5, before Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) tore after the eventual target of 317-5 with a 135-run opening stand inside 15 overs.

But Krunal clattered an unbeaten 58 form 31 deliveries, featuring seven fours and two sixes, as he and KL Rahul climbed into some sub-par death bowling from England.

In a curtailed mid-innings interview following his knock, Krunal broke down in tears as he dedicated his format debut to his father, who passed away in January.

Having seen his left-arm spin disappear under Roy and Bairstow's early assault, Krunal returned to claim the important wicket of Sam Curran (12) as England subsided meekly – seamers Prasidh Krishna (4-54), Bhuveneshwar Kumar (2-30) and Shardul Thakur (3-37) doing the bulk of the damage to dismiss Eoin Morgan's side for 251 in 42.1 overs.

 

Pune will be the venue as England round out their tour to India with a three-match one-day series, starting on Tuesday. 

While the Test leg of the trip was won convincingly by the hosts, the two nations played out a high-quality Twenty20 battle that saw India rally from 2-1 down to prevail 3-2 in a decider.

Virat Kohli opened the innings in Saturday's fifth and final T20 fixture, but the India captain has confirmed he will be moving back down the order now the focus switches over quickly to the 50-over format.

"As far as the opening combination is concerned, Shikhar (Dhawan) and Rohit (Sharma) will definitely start. They have been amazing for us in the past few years," Kohli said ahead of the series. 

England used only 12 players during the T20 games, a decision taken with the focus on gaining experience in Indian conditions ahead of the World Cup in the same country later this year. 

However, white-ball skipper Eoin Morgan revealed the tourists will use the one-day fixtures to take a look at those players who have not featured too much on the trip so far. 

"Throughout the one-day series, we will see guys given opportunities, more so than we did in the T20 series," Morgan told the media. 

"It's going to be exciting, playing three games at the same ground against a very, very strong India side is a huge opportunity for everybody to go out there and get back into the frame of mind and the pace of 50-over cricket, but also for guys who haven't had an opportunity to really put their case forward. 

"Given there is a (T20) World Cup around the corner, playing any international cricket at all is a huge opportunity for guys who have been here, on the fringes, and not made selection so far."

Jofra Archer will not be involved after returning home for treatment on a persistent elbow injury, while Joe Root and Chris Woakes – two key players in the side that secured World Cup glory on home soil in 2019 – are not involved, England choosing to rest and rotate amid a hectic schedule while staying in bio-secure bubbles. 

Moeen Ali, Sam Billings and Liam Livingstone provide options to come into a batting order that will see Root missing from his usual position at number three. As for the bowling, leg-spinner Matt Parkinson will hope for a chance to impress, while Reece Topley could be the one to benefit the most from Archer's absence.

Jasprit Bumrah is a notable absentee from an India squad that does include Suryakumar Yadav - an exciting batsman yet to make his ODI debut - and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.  


Kohli close to matching Tendulkar

Having finished as leading run-scorer in the T20 series, Kohli is one away from equalling the record for most centuries for India in one-day cricket, the great Sachin Tendulkar sitting top of the pile with 20. The India captain is also one three-figure score shy of posting the joint-most hundreds for India in 50-games against England, as he stands on the brink of matching Yuvraj Singh's tally of four.

England aim to keep streak alive

England have put together a run of three successive victories versus India in the one-day format; another triumph in the opener on Tuesday would see them equal their longest winning streak against their opponents in the format (four in a row was achieved in games between 1974 and 1981).

Key series facts

- India are set to face off against England for the first time in an ODI since losing a Cricket World Cup group game by a margin of 31 runs against the eventual champions, back in June 2019.

- The hosts have been involved in only one completed ODI against England at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, beating them by three wickets there in January 2017.

- Both sides have only managed to win 50 per cent of their completed one-day games since the end of the Cricket World Cup. India have recorded seven victories, while their opponents have four wins across the same time period.

- Virat Kohli has registered 30 ODI knocks versus England, with his highest score against them in the format coming in Pune, posting 122 off 105 balls there in January 2017.

- Bhuvneshwar Kumar managed to get Jos Buttler out on three occasions during the T20 series, the most instances of any bowler dismissing a batsman across those five fixtures (conceding just 26 runs).

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