Chris Tremlett: Stokes’ return balances England for India clash
England and India, as their No1 and No2 rankings would suggest, are very evenly-matched one-day sides.
India showed in their 2-1 Twenty20 series win last week that they are going to pose England a lot more questions than an out-of-sorts Australia did beforehand.
They have vastly experienced players, not just in international cricket, but also in the Indian Premier League, which gives them exposure to the best from all around the world.
Their batting is class. They chased down 198 with ease in the final T20 at Bristol on Sunday, with Rohit Sharma making a lovely hundred.
However, England still played well and if theyd got a few more runs on the board we would be sat here with a slightly different story going into this three-match one-day series.
When the wickets are a bit slower and take spin, thats where England can fall down. But on good, well-paced pitches – like at Trent Bridge where tomorrow's match takes place and where they struck a world record 481-6 against Australia last month – they are right in the mix.
Even though they lost the preceding T20 series theyll be confident and aiming to take momentum into next years home World Cup.
Rohit Sharma underlined India's danger with a match-winning hundred in the final T20 (Source: Getty)
Englands top order is in brilliant form. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow are playing extremely positively and will be well-suited to the pitch at Trent Bridge.
Indias leading seamer Jasprit Bumrah is injured and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is nursing a back problem, so that could also help the hosts make a fast start.
Led by their openers, England need to keep playing the type of cricket they played against Australia, where they brought out some near-perfect performances.
They are helped by the return of Ben Stokes, who provides balance as a genuine all-rounder. He gives another bowling option, although I dont think hell bowl the full 10-over quota having just come back from injury.
Hes a complete cricketer. He adds a lot in the field – he can provide a vital run-out to break a partnership, or produce a running catch on the boundary, or grab one at slip to the spinner.
Ben Stokes is the all-round package, with the bat, ball and in the field (Source: Getty)
When hes playing well he can do it all – score a quick hundred or take five wickets. Hes exactly the kind of player you want in your side.
Like Indias Hardik Pandya did on Sunday, he can stand up in the big games and take situations away from the opposition. Its exciting to have him back.
England have lost just four of their 21 ODIs in the last year and have won 46 and lost 19 since the 2015 World Cup. However, there will always be areas you can improve on.
I think Morgan is right in labelling England favourites. Theyre at home, full of confidence having just whitewashed Australia 5-0, and have an excellent recent record.
The series will be closely contested but Im backing the home side to edge it 2-1.