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India are favourites in ODIs against England

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England_India_ODI_T20I_CricketAs England prepare to face India’s challenging wrist spinners ahead of the three match ODI series, one can't help but wonder how the tables have turned. Fresh from ransacking the Aussies, England were favourites to win the ODI and T20Is against India before the series began, particularly with the games being held at home. However, after the three match T20I series, which India won 2-1, there seems to be little hope for England, especially as they appeared far too uncertain against spin.

But is wrist spin the sole factor that makes India favourites for the ODIs? Turn the clock back the past few months and you will see that India and England have been ruthless in ODIs, racking up ridiculous scores and relying on their top order to gift them big wins.

While this has been true for both teams, an examination of the numbers reveals a clearer picture. Virat Kohli and Joe Root are the highest run-scorers for both teams since the start of 2017, with 2,018 and 1,567 runs respectively.

India have three players with scores in excess of 1,000 in this time and England have four. England have played 36 matches and India, 35. Most of these players have featured in the majority of the games, so the difference in games played isn't a big factor here.

The telling factor, though, is the kind of averages India have racked up. Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni are India’s best scorers and all have averages in excess of 50. In fact, Kohli and Rohit have absurdly high averages of 91.72 and 60.95 respectively. England, on the other hand, have just two players with averages greater than 50. The majority of their batsmen average less than 40 though all of them, save Root, have strike rates greater than 95.

 

Top 10 ODI batsmen since 2017 from India and England

 

The trend here is clear. India’s batsmen have been more consistent in scoring with reasonably high strike rates, and England have relied on many batsmen scoring extremely quick rather than focusing on averages. Their modus operandi is to keep attacking because they have a deep batting line-up and it has worked for them against most teams. But with their tendency to collapse against spin, they might just find this mode of attack a bit difficult to sustain against India.

Another factor supporting this theory is the difference in centuries and half-centuries by their batsmen in this period. India have 24 hundreds, as against England's 22, but 16 of India's 24 hundreds have come from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. England, on the other hand, have a more even distribution with their Johnny Bairstow's 6 hundreds being their highest.

 

Top 10 ODI batsmen since 2017 from India and England. - 100s v 50s

 

In the matter of half-centuries, you see England have 52 fifties as against 49 by India. Root has been prolific, with 14 50+ scores but has converted only three of them to hundreds. Roy and Hales have seven apiece and Morgan, Buttler and Bairstow have more than 5. For India, the conversion rate of 50s to 100s has been better, which means if their batsmen settle in, there is a high probability of them making a hundred.

While batting has been the major focus of this discussion, it is now essential to check the bowling numbers of these teams before arriving at a conclusion; the teams are pretty much inseparable on the basis of batting. Analysing their ODI bowling numbers gives a clear cut idea of why India are the favourites heading into this ODI series.

India have five bowlers with 30+ wickets since 2017, with three bowlers boasting of an economy rate under 5. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have mind-blowing averages of 20.02 and 23.29 respectively, unheard numbers in modern day ODI cricket. England, meanwhile, have relied on Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett for their wickets. The duo took 56 and 50 respectively in this time period, and none of the others managed more than 40 wickets. The problem, though, has been one of economy.

 

Top 10 ODI bowlers since 2017 - India and England - Avg vs Eco

 

India have three bowlers (Bumrah, Kuldeep and Chahal) with economy rates under 5 an over, whereas England have none. To make things worse, their most economical bowler in this period, Chris Woakes, won't be a part of this series due to injury. Their fourth and fifth best bowlers - Moeen Ali and Mark Wood - have averages in excess of 40.

This is where England could struggle to contain the Indian batting line-up, which has shown jaw-dropping progress over the last few years. Add KL Rahul to the mix and India have tremendous batting strength which these England bowlers will have a hard time containing.

Since July 2016, England have conceded over 300 a whopping 12 times. While they have also made 300+ scores 20 times when batting, the tendency to concede big runs will hurt England. India, on the other hand, have more balanced figures in this regard. They have scored 300+ scores 11 times while conceding more than 300 just 7 times.  

All signs point towards an enthralling series, but with numbers heavily skewed in India's favour, England will need their batsmen to click unlike in the T20Is. If they don't, there is little hope that their bowlers can pull things back against India's bullish batting line-up.

 

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