India v England
Sunday 15 January 08.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
India are supposed to be a tough nut to crack at home in limited-overs cricket. But they are not as solid as they are in Tests. In the last two years their home record reads won five, lost five.
MS Dhoni has stepped down as leader, passing the baton to the new demi-God, Virat Kohli. If he captains like he bats, Kohli will surpass the great man.
Otherwise India have an embarrassment of riches in the all-rounder department. There's MS, Yuvraj Singh (yes, back again), Hardik Pandya, Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Kedar Jadav.
The pace bowling department looks well stocked, too. Bhuv Kumar is admirable, Umesh Yadav a tyro and Jasprit Bumrah's rise has been rapid. Amit Mishra gives them another spin option. In short, they've got all bases covered.
England will bat deep, down to No 11 if they so wish, thanks to the all-round capabilities of David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes. We're still waiting for a boffin to dig up a team from the international archive who has managed that before.
At the top of the order we like them. Make that love them. England are hedonistic in their approach to hitting and Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jos Buttler will not die wondering.
Of course this means that on pitches which do not allow reckless strokeplay England are liable to come horribly unstuck. But who cares?
Joe Root is available and the powers-that-be may try to shoehorn Sam Billings in there somehow. Eoin Morgan could come under fire if he suffers a poor trot with the knives being sharpened after he ducked Bangladesh.
Spin is the issue. Can they play it? Not too shabbily. Can they bowl it? We doubt Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali can keep India quiet.
There has been only one ODI at Pune and that was in 2013. Australia posted 304 and beat India by 72. It's not particularly helpful that it was also the last List A game. So we don't have a great deal to go on. In last year's IPL it was a good batting track with two scores of more than 180 in four matches.
India are 1.548/15 and England 2.89/5. The former is a bit of a stinker of a price considering the even money home record of the last two years.
But we understand why the odds are the way they are. This has been priced up as if this is an England ODI team of old. One that couldn't hit it off the square and thought 300 was a film about some Greek chaps.
Not any more. England are dangerous with the bat - very dangerous. And it is highly likely that we'll be backing them to chase up to 320 with regularity. Oh, that's another point. They're not so hot with the ball.
We go into some pretty detailed analysis here of why this is a toss series and for the first game at least it would be remiss not to stick to our guns. England - with theirs blazing - all the way if they get the chance to chase.
Dew might be a factor for the defender. It is expected to turn up for the last 20 overs. The weather forecast is good.
Top India runscorer
Ajinkya Rahane looks likely to get the chance to open the batting. He is strangely underrated in India and has nice form with a half-century in the warm-up against England. Sportsbook's 9/2 is eye-catching. But he will have to beat Kohli, who England didn't have a Scooby against in the Tests. He is 5/2.
Top England runscorer
Root is the 11/4 jolly but we like Ben Stokes at 17/2 and Buttler at 11/2. Moeen also catches the eye at 20/1. He is expected to bat at No 7.
2pts England if they bat 2nd