MX23RW : Tuesday, December 18 17:59:46

India using vital time to hone skills ahead of World Cup

England and India appear to be on a collision course to meet in the Cricket World Cup final next year if their meetings in the summer are anything to go by.

Cricket T20© ImRaina via Twitter
England and India appear to be on a collision course to meet in the Cricket World Cup final next year if their meetings in the summer are anything to go by. The Three Lions have established themselves as the leading team in the 50-over format since their humiliation at the last World Cup. Eoin Morgan has led a revolution to guide his side to the top of the world rankings, although India have put them to the test and will be certainly vying for the crown with England next summer.

Virat Kohli and company have already defeated the Three Lions in their T20 series in three hard-fought matches. The ODI series has seen both sides exchange blows, highlighting how even the two teams appear to be heading into a potential showdown in England next year. Pakistan were the surprise package of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, defeating the Three Lions in the semi-finals then India in the final to take the crown. Since then England and India have established themselves at the two dominant forces in the 50-over crown, and based on their current handling of conditions, it could be worth backing them to take the title, so it's worth monitoring their chances with analysts with an expertise in cricket in the Asian markets.

The foundation of their potential success begins with Rohit Sharma at the top of the innings. The 31-year-old blasted two centuries to guide India to victories over the Three Lions in T20 and ODI matches, displaying his power at the crease. In a potential showdown with England next year in the final of the World Cup the ability to get off to a brisk start is a vital aspect of the game, given the talent of their batting lineup. Sharma is more than capable of matching them stroke-for-stroke after notching 18 centuries in his career in the top order. Shikhar Dhawan's form in the current summer will be a concern to the Indian selectors, although he did lead the Champions Trophy in runs, scoring 338 over the course of the competition.

Kohli will be the decisive factor in India's batting lineup. He has shown glimpses of his talent against England this summer, but not quite of the dominance he displayed when he put England to the sword in their tour of India in the 2016-17 campaign. The 29-year-old has had his issues in English conditions and failed to thrive in the Champions Trophy when put under pressure by Pakistan in the final, although he was far from the only one. Building confidence in the remaining matches of the tour could be crucial for the India skipper when the World Cup comes around.

Cricket T20 ICC© ICC via Twitter
Kuldeep Yadav has emerged as one of most exciting prospects in the game. The left-arm leg-spinner has been outstanding in his early matches in England, tormenting the Three Lions with his variations and use of pace. He surprised England's vaunted top order to play a crucial role in delivering the T20 series, while the 23-year-old claimed career-best figures of 6-25 in the opening ODI at Trent Bridge. Yadav has capitalised on the dry conditions in England this summer. Whether India can count on another summer of hot weather to provide perfect circumstances for Yadvav and Yuzvendra Chahal to thrive is another matter. Chahal delivered control in the T20s, although he does not provide the same wicket-taking threat as his teammate. A combination of both players may be enough to deliver the crown, but the seamers will also have to play their role.

Injuries have sidelined Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, leaving India without their two senior pacemen. Their return will strengthen the team, offering a wicket-taking threat in the early overs, while Bumrah has developed into one of the best death bowlers in the world. Umesh Yadav and Siddith Kaul have had their moments thus far in England, although they do not have the unique skill sets of Kumar and Bumrah. Kumar especially is a potent bowler in English conditions and was named in the Champions Trophy team of the tournament last year. The 28-year-old will be a vital player and will have a further chance to hone his skills. A similar performance to that of his display in the Champions Trophy along with Yadav would give India the strongest attack in the tournament. All the factors combined could be enough to overhaul England's progress even on home soil.

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Durham captain Paul Collingwood shows off his ball control skills during day two of a LV County Championship Division One match on September 18, 2013
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