India vs England: Player Face-Offs - MS Dhoni vs Chris Woakes
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will see the One-Day International series as a chance to play freely after having resigned as captain. Meanwhile, it will be an opportunity for Chris Woakes as well to shine for England.
Having relinquished his captaincy, Mahendra Singh Dhoni can play more freely, like he used at the beginning of his international career. With less burden on his shoulders and lesser stress on his mind, the 35-year-old can loosen his arms when he picks up the willow in the upcoming three-match One-Day International (ODI) series against England.
Recently, Yuvraj Singh posted a video on social networking platforms where he congratulated Dhoni on a magnificent career as skipper and asked him whether he would revert to his more attacking style of play and smash a few more sixes. In reply, the Ranchi-born Dhoni said that if the situation demanded, he would.
Fans of Indian cricket can only hope that these situations arise frequently. After all, which Dhoni fan wouldn't want to see his 'helicopter shot' - flicking the ball beyond the ropes at the deep mid-wicket boundary.
But England have quite a formidable side thanks to the presence of quite a few all-rounders who form a major part of the team. A certain Chris Woakes also asserts his presence when you mention the England all-rounders today.
The right-arm pacer can be quite a handful for Indian batsmen and though he had rather forgettable five Tests against India in the last two months of 2016, Woakes can really up his game in coloured clothing. After all the 50-over format is a completely different ball game.
When the team needs him, he can also play the odd solid knock with the bat but it is really his bowling which is his asset. Highly talented, the 27-year-old struggled for quite a few years since his debut in international cricket to affirm his place in the England squad. But now he is a regular in the playing XI.
Woakes' experience of playing in India previously will also help him and it will be interesting to see how he bowls to the in-form Indian batsmen, especially Dhoni.
Dhoni showed glimpses of his old self in the recent warm-up game against England XI at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai where he smashed an unbeaten 68 off 40 deliveries which included eight boundaries and two sixes. This kind of Dhoni will be hard to stop for Woakes, who fared quite poorly for England XI in the two practice games held in Mumbai.
We will have to wait and watch how that pans out.