The England-India ODI series pits two of the best teams in this format against each other. England have clearly been the standout team, with a 46-19 win-loss record since their horrendous 2015 World Cup campaign, but India haven't done badly either, winning 39 and losing 19 in this period. They are the top two teams in the ICC ODI rankings, and the only ones who have won twice as many matches as they have lost over the last three years.
They are clearly the two best ODI teams, but the way they have gone about their business has been quite different. England have relied almost exclusively on their batsmen to deliver the wins - their run rate of 6.26 is well clear of the next-best, 5.77 - while India have been more balanced, relying on their bowling as well. Their economy rate of 5.33 is third among the top ten teams, while England's is ninth.
In fact, England's economy rate of 5.71 is only 0.03 better than Sri Lanka's, who are in last place at 5.74. And yet, while Sri Lanka have a dismal 20-39 win-loss record in ODIs during this period, losing two games per victory. England, meanwhile, are soaring high with 2.4 wins per defeat. What makes the difference is their batting.
The aspect that stands out about England's batting is their boundary-hitting ability throughout their innings. Overall, they hit a four or a six every 8.5 balls, compared to India's 9.6. (To give an idea of just how much England have improved this aspect of their batting, in the period between January 2012 and March 2015, their boundary-hitting rate was one every 12 balls.)
That power-hitting has helped England rack up 300-plus totals like no other team. In 68 innings since the 2015 World Cup, they have gone past 300 31 times, which is once every two innings. India have achieved it 16 times in 59 innings. England have also gone past 350 on 11 occasions, and breached 400 three times. Those are far superior numbers to any other team, including India.
Breaking up the numbers further into over-wise phases, the biggest difference between the two batting units is their approach to the Powerplay overs. England's openers have gone hard at the bowlers from the start, while India have been far more circumspect. England's first-10-overs run rate of 5.63 is the best among the top teams during this period, while India are in sixth place at 4.92, only above Bangladesh, Pakistan, West Indies and Afghanistan. England hit a four or a six every 7.13 balls and their opening stand averages 6.36 per over, compared to India's 8.59 balls per boundary and a run rate of 5.24 for their opening partnerships.
This early aggression from England's openers allows the rest of the line-up to feed off of them, while also putting the opposition bowlers on the back foot from the start. Among the 17 openers from the top teams who have scored 500-plus runs in the first 10 overs of ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, Jonny Bairstow has the best strike rate of 108, while Jason Roy (96) and Alex Hales (93.3) are also in the top five. In comparison, Rohit has a strike rate of 79.5 in the first 10, which is 13th among these 17 batsmen. (He often makes up for it later in his innings, but India's Powerplay numbers still suffer because of this approach.)
In the middle and death overs, too, England are well clear of the rest of the teams, though India are up there too in terms of run-rate rankings among the top ten teams. On average, England gain around seven runs on India in the Powerplay overs, 13 in the middle overs and five in the death, which means about 25 more runs than India on average. (The actual run rates of the two teams - 6.26 and 5.77 - are lesser than these average totals because teams don't always play each of their last ten overs in every game.)
India's bowlers have a better ODI record than England's, but they will have to contend with tough conditions: in the last three years, bowlers have conceded 5.92 runs per over in England, the highest among countries which have hosted at least 20 ODIs in this period; India are third at 5.63. England is also the toughest country for spinners: they have gone at 5.82 and concede almost 46 runs per wicket, compared to 5.37 in India.
Add England's home record in these three years - 28 wins, 8 losses, including no defeats in the last ten games - and you know that India will be up against it. But as India showed in the T20I series, they have the resources to overcome one of the toughest teams in ODI cricket.