It's a big series for England’s limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan and only scoring runs will silence those who have criticised him for pulling out of the tour of Bangladesh in October because of security fears.
There will undoubtedly be increased scrutiny of Morgan during the three one-day tussles with India, which start on Sunday in Pune, and subsequent three Twenty20 internationals, and he has to take that on the chin.
Morgan has only scored two half-centuries in his last 16 50-over innings for England and irrespective of how well the team is doing, he does ultimately need to contribute with the bat. There have been too many low scores and hopefully the 30-year-old can return to the form he showed on a regular basis three or four years ago.
We don’t know which route the England and Wales Cricket Board will take should Test captain Alastair Cook stand down in the near future. Although Jos Buttler skippered the side in Bangladesh, if Morgan keeps failing with the bat they could feasibly hand Joe Root the captaincy across all formats.
Whichever way you look at it, runs will be a big help. The signs are that he’s in pretty decent nick after some good scores for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash, including a six off the final ball as his side beat Melbourne Stars in his last outing.
As I have written previously, you cannot fault Morgan’s captaincy and he can play a major role this series in terms of the younger players tapping into his knowledge of subcontinental conditions given his experience of playing in the Indian Premier League.
Kent’s Sam Billings, another player with Indian Premier League experience after playing for Delhi Daredevils last year, scored 93 for an England XI against India A in Mumbai on Tuesday and he’s a player I really like.
The 25-year-old is versatile, a very good player of spin, and can hit the ball 360 degrees around the ground, which is very difficult to deal with as a bowler. He’s in the ilk of someone like Buttler.
In subcontinental conditions and on the slower pitches of India, Billings, who has also been playing in the Big Bash with the Sydney Sixers, could be a major asset and I would like to see him play.
I do believe that England will be quietly confident heading into the one-day series. India in their own conditions will always start as favourites but England have a much better chance than on previous trips there.
England have lost their last four one-day series in India, while their last win was way back in 1985, but their form has improved massively over the last 18 months or so and I believe they are capable of rising to the challenge.