India’s new skipper Virat Kohli has his eyes firmly fixed on the 2019 World Cup as his side begins the year with a limited-overs series against a new-look England starting tomorrow.
Kohli, who led India to a 4-0 Test demolition of England last year, is now India’s skipper across all formats after Mahendra Singh Dhoni relinquished his ODI and Twenty20 captaincy early this month.
Following the Test triumph, the 28-year-old skipper returns to the helm against the Eoin Morgan-led side in three one-day internationals before the sides play three Twenty20 matches.
The swashbuckling batsman, who has been dubbed ‘King Kohli’ by the Indian media, now has the task of preparing the third-ranked ODI side for its title defence in the Champions Trophy in June and eventually the World Cup in 2019.
India will also have the services of veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh, who is expected to make the XI after his half-century in the first warm-up in Mumbai.
Returning to the fold, batsman Shikhar Dhawan and fit-again Ajinkya Rahane, who cracked 91 to lead India A to victory in the second warm-up, are also expected to strengthen India’s batting line-up in the first ODI in Pune.
Meanwhile, England will be no pushover in the limited overs segment as ODI and T20 skipper Morgan insisted that the team did not carry the baggage of their pre-Christmas loss to India.
Morgan and opener Alex Hales have returned to the England side after skipping the Bangladesh tour due to security concerns as the tourists seek a first ODI series win in India since 1984-85.
Morgan’s ODI team enjoyed a successful 2016, winning 11 and losing five out of their 17 matches. They are presently coming off a run where they have lost only two out of 12 games.
England’s batting had shown their might during their successful 305-run chase in the first warm-up against the Dhoni-led India A with Sam Billings hitting a gutsy 93. England have lost 50 of their 93 ODIs against India but have won their previous three outings against the Asian cricketing giants.
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