Eoin Morgan backed England to continue playing “explosive” one-day cricket in India but home captain Virat Kohli believes that commitment to attack could be their downfall.
England lost the Test leg 4-0 before Christmas but their limited-overs unit has been a different proposition since a selection overhaul following the 2015 World Cup, winning five of the seven series since then.
The old plan of building a platform and preserving wickets has long gone, replaced by an emphasis on power-hitting from the off and all-out aggression which helped them post a world record 50-over score of 444 for three against New Zealand last year.
But Kohli, speaking ahead of today’s first ODI in Pune, used the pre-match press conference to gently suggest that England may have accelerated their tactics too much to have sustainable success.
“They seem to be quite fearless, which is always a good thing in the shorter format of the game, but at the same time I’ve always felt that to be a consistent performer in the ODI format, you need to understand strike rotation as well,” he counselled.
“You can’t just go in with one sort of momentum. That is something we will look to counter, see if they lose a few early wickets, what are the plans they come up with?”
It was mildly jarring to hear a captain of India, home to the most six-hungry fans on the globe, caution England, who not so long ago used the likes of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott to see off the new ball, on the value of nurdling.
But Kohli is peerless among chasers in the format and boasts 26 centuries with an average of 52.93. His thoughts on 50-over batting shouldn’t be dismissed.
Morgan is a single-minded individual though, evidenced by his decision to skip the recent tour of Bangladesh on safety grounds, and has arguably done more than anyone to modernise the English approach to limited-overs cricket. If someone is going to urge caution from free spirits like Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jos Butter, it is unlikely to be him.
“I wouldn’t say it’s fearless, I just like to think we play in our own way,” said Morgan.
“The group of players we have are very outgoing, they’re very expansive and explosive. They do what they say they’re going to do and stick to their natural game, which is quite an aggressive game.
“As individuals it’s about being yourself and being comfortable in your skin and that’s something that’s worked. If this side scores 275-300 it means we’ve fallen a long way short.”
Joe Root returns for the tourists today, having missed the warm-up matches against India A for the birth of his first child.