So England have arrived at the final day of their winter campaign, from Galle to Chennai to Ahmedabad and finally Pune. Some momentous highs and chastening lows along the way; tours that won’t be forgotten, not least due to the bio-bubbles they have been played in, and the rest-and-rotation policy that’s necessitated.
But if they can get up today in this third one-dayer, Jos Buttler’s understaffed side will leave the subcontinent with a trophy in the hand luggage and their number one ranking secured in the format. All told, not a bad effort after taking after taking the T20 series to a decider last week – especially after the last three Tests.
It’s hard to imagine Mark Wood won’t return after resting in Friday’s frenetic victory, Tom Curran the man most likely to make way in that scenario. It’s not entirely whether Sam Billings will be fit enough to play, but if he does, England will need to pick between the battle-hardened Dawid Malan and excitement machine Liam Livingstone, the latter doing his reputation no harm when twice boshing Bhuvneshwar over the rope to seal the deal on debut.
As for India, the main decision they have to make is whether they shake up their spin ranks after Krunal Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav went for a combined 0/156 from 16 overs on game two. In fairness, they ran head first into Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, who weren’t yielding to anyone on a flat pitch in that kind of brutal form.
When England were defeated in the opener, losing a couple of players to injury along the way – including captain Eoin Morgan – the message was clear: they weren’t going to change their tactics. Going after the bowling from the get-go had taken them to the top of the world and it would keep them there – something like that. It’s now India who have their gameplan under the microscope. Will they again go with their steady-as-she-goes build before exploding in the final ten overs? Something to think about as we near the toss.
Strap yourselves in (or drop me a line): this promises to be a beauty.