Struggling opener Shikhar Dhawan will be the focus in a spoilt-for-choice Indian team when it takes on World champion England in a three-match ODI series starting in Pune on Tuesday with the visitors eyeing a positive end to their tour after Test and T20 debacles.
The series is particularly important for the 35-year-old Dhawan, who failed to make an impact in the first T20 in Ahmedabad before warming the benches the remaining four games which India won.
With the management having plenty of options in Shubman Gill and KL Rahul and with the likes of youngsters Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal knocking at the door, it will be a litmus test for the veteran left-hander to prove himself in the lung-opener.
He is expected to open the innings along with seasoned campaigner Rohit Sharma, who was in blistering form in the T20 series and would be keen to carry on in the same vein.
The ODI format gives Dhawan the time he needs to build his innings. With loads of experience under his belt, the Delhi batsman could be hoping to be back among the runs and seal his position in the team.
For the Indian team, the series would be an extension of its preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.
The 50-over-format, in general, remains low priority in 2021 with no major tournaments around the corner.
Skipper Virat Kohli was back among the runs in the T20 series against England and he would look to carry the momentum into the ODIs.
It has been a while since Kohli scored a hundred in the format, his last and 43rd one coming against the West Indies (114 not out) at Port of Spain in August 2019.
He will be itching to make his good form count and end the century drought.
It is also expected Rishabh Pant could take over the gloves from Rahul, following his superb showing against England in the Tests and the T20I series.
The out-of-form Rahul faces a lot of competion for the lone middle order slot from Mumbaikars Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, who excelled with the bat in the T20I series.
Yadav proved himself to be quite a power-hitter in the T20 series, notching up a blistering half-century in his first outing with the bat and then played another quickfire cameo in the series-deciding fifth ODI.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya is back to his best with the ball but it remains to be seen how many overs he bowls in 50-overs cricket, but his inclusion gives the team a lot of balance.
The bowling attack is expected to be spearheaded by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was back to his best in the T20I series as he bowled a match-winning spell in the fifth game.Shardul Thakur, who has improved greatly with the ball in limited overs cricket, is also likely to make it to the playing XI.
Rookie pacer Prasidh Krishna, who has already caught the eye of Kohli, is also in the squad. Krishna enjoyed a good Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign for Karnataka, claiming 14 wickets in seven matches at an average of 24.5.
Mohammed Siraj and Thangarasu Natarajan are the two pace bowling options for the hosts.
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal is likely to get the nod ahead of Kuldeep Yadav, while Washington Sundar faces stiff competition from Krunal Pandya for the spin all-rounder's slot with the Baroda left-hander hitting two centuries and two fifties in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
On the other hand, World Cup winners England would also be keen to end the tour on a high after suffering defeats in the Tests (1-3) and the T20 series (2-3).
And for it to happen, skipper Eoin Morgan's role with the bat will be vital.
The likes of Jos Buttler and the swashbuckling Jason Roy will have to fire in unison and all-rounder Ben Stokes will have to step up with both the bat and ball.
England pacer Mark Wood troubled the Indian batters with his pace and in the absence of an injured Jofra Archer, he would have to shoulder greater responsibility along with Chris Jordan and the young Sam Curran.
The spin duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid will have been unable to trouble the Indian batsmen and it remains to be seen whether they have any new tricks to change the dynamics. Additionally, Ali can perform the role of a pinch-hitter, if needed.
All the games at MCA Stadium, Gahunje will be played in front of empty stands as India battles a fresh surge in COVID-19 infections.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (w/k), KL Rahul (w/k), Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Thangarasu Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur.
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (w/k), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood. Covers: Jake Ball, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan.
Match starts at 1.30pm IST.