England batsman Joe Root feels India present a different challenge than their recent opponents including Australia and the home team will have to be at the top of its game to beat the Virat Kohli-led outfit in the three-match ODI series beginning in Nottingham on Thursday. England had beaten Australia 5-0 in the home ODI series last month. “India have been a really strong team in this format for a long time. They won (ODI series) last time they came over here. I know it was a very different side they played against but it is a really good marker to see where we are,” said Root on Wednesday.
“We have played some really strong cricket in one day format and India are right up there as one of the best one day sides in the world. They present different challenges to the ones we have recently faced but we know that if we play to our potential, keep learning and improving we will be a difficult side to play especially at home,” he added. For Root, this series holds prime personal importance. He couldn’t cope with wrist spin in both T20Is at Manchester and Cardiff. He was dropped subsequently for the Bristol game, but continues to be a pivotal part of the ODI set up.
“I fully understood the decision. It can’t have been an easy one for them to make but that is part and parcel of having a really strong squad. You have to take that. It is always difficult being left out and you never like that as a player. Having been captain myself I know how hard it can be. “One thing is for sure is it is great to see Ben Stokes back to somewhere near fully fit. He is such a big asset to all three teams and with him firing hopefully throughout this series we will see some really strong performances from him and long term for England that is a really good thing,” he said.
Root said he doesn’t fear losing his place in the limited overs teams.
“I don’t have any fears about it. I want to see us being as complete a side as possible in all three competitions, but I want to be a part of them. It’s difficult because of the limited opportunities I’ve had to play T20 cricket, but the thing that has always been at the forefront of my mind is that playing for England comes first.”
Talking about missing out on playing in the IPL, Root said, “All the domestic tournaments around the world, they have to fit around playing for England. Whether that’s making sure I get enough rest, or obviously if there are international games throughout those tournaments, I’m going to have to miss out.
“Until there’s a really good block for me to go and play T20 cricket somewhere in a domestic tournament, it’s going to be hard for me to get a string of games together and really put that case across.” This series is built up as clash of the two best ODI sides who are both looking at next year’s World Cup. Root said that the series would be a good indicator of how things stand for both sides with less than a year to go.
“Yes it does (present opportunities to grab spots) and ahead of a World Cup that’s what you want. You want guys outside pushing as hard as possible and making those difficult decisions. It can’t be easy but it shows where we have come to in the last three or four years in this format. It can’t be a bad thing,” he said.
Batsmen-friendly wickets are expected in this ODI series. Trent Bridge is a favourite hunting ground for English batsmen who have scored 400-plus here twice in three summers.
While there has been a lot of focus on Indian wrist spinners, the visitors will be missing the services of Jasprit Bumrah, and possibly of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the first ODI, who is in doubt with a stiff back.
Root underlined that this only meant opportunities for India’s bench strength and they will not be reading too much into the pacers’ unavailability.
“I think it is dangerous to start thinking too far ahead (in terms of predicting high scores). One thing that generally we have been good at last couple of years is assessing things early on and planning an innings from there. It might be the case, it might not, but we will try to win this series and do everything we can to come out of an impressive white ball summer,” he said.
“India are in a place where they have some great depth in that (bowling) department. You can see it in the IPL, a number of guys have done extremely well. Even if the frontline guys aren’t playing, we still have to play well. They will pose different challenges to us as a seam attack,” Root added.