Test season is well and truly over, and all eyes are now on the traditional limited-overs format: One Day Internationals.
With the World Cup less than a month away, this tri-series Down Under will serve as the perfect warm-up for the three teams involved: Australia, England, India.
Everything changes when the players abandon their whites. Form, structures, competitiveness, rules and records. Australia and India, level on points, are the two top-ranked teams in ODI cricket. England are far away, but a lot can change in one tournament.
Captain: Eoin Morgan
Top player: Moeen Ali
Talking point: Alastair Cook has been excluded from limited over squads finally, giving more flexibility to the top order, and a new leader for the World Cup.
Ian Bell is most likely to replace Cook at the top, with the revolutionary Moeen Ali set to change the fortunes of his team. England have lost possibly every limited overs series in 2014, against Sri Lanka and India and others, and are in dire need of resuscitation. The tri-series is what they need more than most teams, for them to be competitive and get past the quarters of a World Cup for once. The likes of Balance, Buttler, Hales, Bopara and Root form quite a formidable middle order, with Anderson, Finn, Broad and Woakes making a pretty good bowling combination. Their spinners will be Ali and Tredwell, who have shown the ability to trouble Indian batsmen. This is an exciting new beginning for a team that has consistently underperformed on the bigger stages.
Captain: George Bailey
They’re ranked no. 1, but they’d be the first to admit that India are the most formidable rivals in ODI cricket. Australia’s ODI form has been patchy at best, and the exclusion of Lyon and Harris has come as a surprise. However, with out-of-form Maxwell, Faulkner and Finch, their batting can be pretty explosive on the day. Warner is perpetually scoring runs, as Watson will be more useful as an ODI all-rounder. Perhaps younger legs for a keeper (Wade over Haddin) would have been a better option though. Playing on home turf, they will be defending the title that they won against Sri Lanka and India in 2012.
Captain: MS Dhoni
India’s bowlers become effective in ODI cricket because most batsmen are forced to go after them. They aren’t the best at the death, but they have Virat Kohli to chase scores down. India hasn’t traditionally fared well in this tournament, their worst performance being in 1999 (Lost 6, Won 1), and they crashed out before the best-of-3 finals in 2012 too. They were propelled by Tendulkar and new blood in 2008, and could perhaps repeat that performance next week with the strong batting order. Much will still be down to their lack of all-round options, and maybe Akshar Patel and Jadeja could stake a claim finally. Bowlers Bhuvi, Ashwin, Shami and Ishant will need this series to boost their confidence.
Australia could face India in the best-of-3 finals, unless Kohli and co. decides to take a break and abandon form. England still have a lot of building to do, but they will go neck to neck with India—a team that they have consistently troubled since 2011.