Virat KohliThe stylish right-hander hasn’t had a great start to 2013. He had a terrific 2012 where he amassed 1026 runs in 17 matches at an impressive average of 68.40 with five centuries. He became a force to reckon with in ODIs and India heavily relied on his capabilities in the shorter format.
In the recently concluded ODI series against arch-rivals Pakistan, the 24-year-old scored just 13 runs in three matches as India found it difficult to tackle Pakistan’s formidable pace attack.
It’s a new series and form is something which doesn’t elude the right-hander for long, and the English pace attack would be wary of the damage the Delhi born cricketer can cause, single-handedly.
Ian BellAfter a series of poor scores, Ian Bell slammed a ton against India in the last Test at Nagpur, which further added to their woes. Probably England’s best player of spin is one of the pillars of the England batting-order who rely hugely upon him to rescue them from arduous situations.
Often ignored for his contribution to the England squad, Ian Bell was England’s best batsman in the two warm-up matches against India A and Delhi where he scored 91 and 108. His technique is near perfect for sub-continental tracks and his consistency would be a key for the visitors.
By Suyash Srivastava
Alastair CookEngland looked all set for a series defeat after losing to India in the first Test match last year. But from there onwards, Cook inspired his side to put a spectacular comeback against India. The left-hander smashed his fifth successive ton as a skipper, three of which were scored against India on their home turf.
With him at the crease, India would be haunted by the memories and the manner in which he deflated the morale of the entire Indian dugout. Had it not been for two errors of judgment by the umpires in the Nagpur Test, things would have been even worse for India.
Cook already has 23 centuries to his name in the ODIs and there is no reason why he cannot add to that list, keeping his current form in mind.
MS DhoniThe Indian skipper is the in-form batsman for the team. While the rest of the batsmen found it hard to scores runs fluently against Pakistan in the recently concluded series, Dhoni was an exception as he won two Man of the Match awards in three matches.
While half of his team was back to pavilion in the first ODI against Pakistan, Dhoni stitched two crucial partnerships with Suresh Raina and R Ashwin and went on to score his eighth ton in ODIs. He was also the highest scorer for the side in the next two matches –54* and 36 and was given the Man of the Match for leading his side to a thrilling victory in the last ODI.
The 31-year old is under-fire for his captaincy in Test matches, but he is India’s best batsmen in limited overs cricket at the moment, as players like Virat Kohli are struggling to find their form in the New Year. The result of the series will depend a lot on how Dhoni performs with the bat.
Kevin PietersenKP wouldn’t want to remember 2012, a year where he retired from ODIs after being dropped from the national squad, a step taken after he allegedly sent texts to South African players criticizing Andrew Strauss. He wasn’t a part of the England T20 World Cup squad as well and was only recalled for the Test series against India after settling the dust of controversies with the England Cricket Board (ECB).
Pietersen, the switch-hit expert will be a force to reckon with in the ODI series for his swashbuckling technique can torment the best of the bowling attacks in the world. Unfortunately, the current Indian bowling line-up isn’t threatening, and thus, we can expect substantial amount of runs from the right-hander’s willow.
Cheteshwar PujaraBeing hailed as the ‘Next Big Thing’ in Indian cricket, Cheteshwar Pujara replaced explosive Virender Sehwag for the ODI series against England. Sehwag’s poor form in the last two years drew lots of criticism after which the selectors took the brave step.
The batting stalwarts have heaped lots of praise on Pujara’s temperament and the Indian middle-order needs someone like him who can play the role of an anchor when needed. Pujara has scored 761 runs from 9 Tests so far and the cricket pundits predict him to be equally successful in the ODIs as well.
In spite of having an incredible record in the domestic arena, Pujara made sure to remind the cricketing fraternity about his abilities by scoring a triple ton just at the right time ahead of the ODI series.