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2nd ODI (D/N), Pune, March 26, 2021, England tour of India
(43.3/50 ov, T:337) 337/4

England won by 6 wickets (with 39 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
124 (112)

India and England play good cop bad cop as series hits fever pitch

India will be without Shreyas Iyer, while England will be lacking both Sam Billings and Eoin Morgan

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu

Big picture

It appears the narrative of this series is set. England have committed to being the marauders and India are, as they've always been, the pragmatists. It's like cricket's own version of a buddy cop show.
In the absence of Eoin Morgan, who split the webbing on his right hand on Tuesday, Jos Buttler will lead the troublemakers. The ones that don't play by the rules but by their own. A set of fearless, gung-ho entertainers who truly believe in - and as a result, enhance the threat of - the firepower at their disposal. If ever there was a team that could touch 500 in an ODI, it is this lot. And no amount of collapses or defeats will sway them off this path. Better these wounds than those of 2015.
Virat Kohli's men are a little more straight-laced. They go by the book. They dot the I's, cross the T's because that's how they have learned to get the job done. But lately, even they've been thinking about taking part in the shenanigans. Funnily enough, they're doing that by the book too.
Ishan Kishan was selected for India on the day he nearly scored a double-hundred in a one-day domestic game. Krunal Pandya captains his state side and he's here after racking up an average of 129 and a strike-rate of 117 in this season's Vijay Hazare Trophy. India have understood the need for evolution. They are on the lookout for players with a 360 degree game and the ability to bring it out from ball one. Their talent pool knows it too. They know what they have to do to earn their cap and they are proving themselves ready for it.
Ever since the 2019 World Cup, ODI cricket has been on a significant upswing. Now with teams like England re-imagining the limits of the game and India finding a new superstar every other day, there is no telling how much fun is in store.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches first)
India: WWLLL
England: LLWLL

In the spotlight

Everyone has something to say about KL Rahul. And they are all mostly good. The team management backs him to the hilt. The experts see him as an all-format player. He himself has been expanding his game - taking on wicketkeeping duties and indulging in IPL captaincy - to make sure his cricket touches a new level. But you get the feeling he sometimes thinks too much, and that if he lets himself go for just a bit - play on instinct like the way Rohit Sharma does - he could unlock something glorious.
In a game that was choking with headline-grabbing events, there was a moment of weirdness. Ben Stokes fumbled a ball coming straight at him and it went for four. He does not do that. He is more pluck the type to darn thing out of thin air while being suspended parallel to the ground. He is box office. But that's not been as readily apparent in this series. There was that blitz in the first Test. Then he threatened to single-handedly win the fourth T20I, but a boss-mode performance from the world's premier allrounder hasn't quite come to pass. There's still time though.

Team news

Shreyas Iyer's shoulder injury opens up a spot in the middle order, and as replacements go, Rishabh Pant probably ain't so bad. Kuldeep Yadav didn't look in his usual rhythm in the first ODI and as such his place may be in jeopardy, especially with Yuzvendra Chahal waiting in the wings.
India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Prasidh Krishna
Morgan has been ruled out of the rest of the series with his hand injury, and Sam Billings will miss the second game at least after jarring his collarbone on Tuesday. Liam Livingstone will make his ODI debut, and Dawid Malan - newly promoted from the reserve list - is likely to come back for his second ODI appearance. England may also be thinking about adding some variation to their bowling attack and can - if they want - call upon left-arm quick Reece Topley. Matt Parkinson, who has been an ever-present bubble member, is also in line for a call-up as England seek to assess their options.
England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Ben Stokes, 4 Dawid Malan, 5 Jos Buttler (capt & wk), 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Adil Rashid/Matt Parkinson, 11 Mark Wood/Reece Topley

Pitch and conditions

Tricky to start. Gets flat as the game goes on. Glorious under lights with the dew. That's been the Pune pitch in one-day cricket. So it may be another game to win the toss and chase.

Stats and trivia

  • Since Jonny Bairstow (2654) began opening the batting for England in ODIs on 14 June 2017, only one man has scored more runs at the top of a batting order - Rohit Sharma (3831). And some of that is thanks to more innings played.
  • Virat Kohli remains without an international century since November 2019.
  • India have played ten ODIs since the start of 2020 across which they have picked only four wickets in the first ten overs. Their average (154) and run rate (6.16) in this period is the worst among 17 teams in this period.
  • Quotes

    "I prefer the Virat who doesn't get runs. That would be good."
    Ben Stokes on which version of the Indian captain he likes
    "The extra 40-45 runs that Krunal and I got in the end ended up being very crucial and ended up making the difference. When you win games like that, you as players, we as a team, realise that we have the potential to do that even if our top order doesn't fire."
    KL Rahul says the performance from the lower-middle order in the first ODI will give more freedom to the top order

    Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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