Stand-in captain Shikhar Dhawan helped India snatch a nervy three-run victory against West Indies in Port of Spain as the hosts suffered another home ODI defeat.

Looking to overhaul India's 308-7 at Queen's Park Oval, West Indies were 133-1 at one stage, ideally placed to bounce back from their recent 3-0 drubbing by Bangladesh.

Yet they could not keep up the strong early running, finishing on 305-6 to lose the opener in the three-match series, a seventh consecutive ODI defeat to India at this ground.

Opener Dhawan, captaining India in the absence of the resting Rohit Sharma and a host of senior stars, was named man of the match. He provided the backbone of the tourists' innings but fell frustratingly short of a century when he was caught by Shamarh Brooks for 97 as he looked to cut away Gudakesh Motie to the ropes.

Shubman Gill had made 64 in a first-wicket stand of 119 before he was run out by a direct hit from home captain Nicholas Pooran, and it was Pooran who took a fine catch at cover off Motie's bowling to send Shreyas Iyer (54) on his way.

In the hosts' reply, Brooks made 46 and Kyle Mayers scored a sharp 75 before falling when he reached outside off stump at a wide-ish ball and got a nick through to wicketkeeper Sanju Samson.

Pooran cracked Prasidh Krishna for two consecutive sixes in the 32nd over to raise a slowing tempo, but he fell for 25 soon after. When Brandon King was caught in the deep for 54 in the 45th over, with 57 still required, that looked to be West Indies' hopes at an end.

There was a flourish though, and they were left needing 15 from the final over, with Akeal Hosein (32 not out) and Romario Shepherd (38no) narrowly failing to delivery the necessary heroics.

IYER LANDMARK

Iyer's 54 took him to 1,001 runs in ODIs, making him the equal-third fastest India batter to reach the 1,000-run milestone, alongside Navjot Singh Sidhu who also got there in 25 innings. Only Virat Kohli and Dhawan (24 innings each) reached four figures in fewer innings.

INDIA EXTEND DOMINANCE

India have now won 11 of their 12 most recent ODIs against West Indies, with the only loss coming in Chennai in December 2019. They have won the last four bilateral ODI series they have contested against West Indies in the Caribbean, and can seal a fifth in a row when game two takes place at the same ground on Sunday.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons admits he is pleased to welcome Jason Holder back to the fold after the all-rounder was recently rested due to load management considerations.

The 30-year-old former captain has not represented the regional team since March of this year.  Following his return from the India Premier League (IPL), it was announced that the player would be left out of the team, for the upcoming series, considering a recent heavy workload.

As a result, Holder has missed the team’s One Day International tours against The Netherlands, and Pakistan and a recent visit of Bangladesh.  The team easily won the first series but could certainly have used Holder’s experience and explosive all-round play as they struggled to find their footing against both Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The player is once again available ahead of the team’s series against India, which begins on Friday and Simmons admits he is impressed by what he has witnessed in training so far.

“It’s good to have him back,” Simmons told members of the media on Wednesday.

“He looks fresh, he had some time out of the game.  He has been bowling well the last two days and batting well too so it’s good to have him back.”

  The West Indies and India will face off in three ODIs.

 

The West Indies will face India on Friday in the first of three ODIs in Trinidad and Tobago but they will be without one player that Captain Nicolas Pooran would dearly like to see taking the field sometime soon.

Shimron Hetmyer, who has not played for the West Indies since November 2021, has been training with the squad but according to the Windies' white-ball captain, the Guyanese middle-order batsman, still has a lot of work to do on his fitness before he can suit up once again.

“He is here doing a lot of work on his fitness and that is really nice to see, the effort that he has been putting in,” Pooran said during a media session on Thursday.

“He wants to play for the West Indies and trainers and coaches working with him, so expect to see him sooner than later.

“I have full confidence that he will be putting on the maroon colours again. He has a fitness test to pass shortly, so he is preparing himself for that.”

Phil Simmons says West Indies must address their batting frailties in a three-match one-day international series against India.

The Windies were consigned to a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Bangladesh on home soil and face a huge challenge when they face India.

Nicholas Pooran has endured a poor start to his tenure as captain and India are strong favourites to win a series that starts at Queen's Park Oval on Friday.

The highest total West Indies posted against the Tigers was only 178 and they have failed to bat out the full 50 overs time and again.

Head coach Simmons is demanding more application at the crease ahead of the series in Port of Spain.

"We have players quite capable of batting for long periods, but we need to get it together and hold strong," Simmons said.

"Players like [Shai] Hope and [Kyle] Mayers are Test batsmen, so they have the temperament to bat right through the innings."

He added: "The main thing is how we bat our 50 overs…we have to bat 50 overs and put our innings together and partnerships together.

"Somebody has to be looking to score a hundred and hold the team together. Batting-wise that is it."

Shikhar Dhawan captains the tourists as Rohit Sharma is rested along with the struggling Virat Kohli and paceman Jasprit Bumrah for a series that does not fall under the banner of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.

India have won 10 of their past 11 ODIs versus the Windies, with the only loss coming in Chennai back in December 2019.

 

Holder return boosts Windies

Good news has been in short supply for West Indies, but the return of all-rounder Jason Holder can give them a lift.

The former skipper was given a break for the Bangladesh series and the Windies will be hoping he is fresh and ready to fire on his return.

Holder needs another four wickets to become the seventh West Indies bowler to take 150 ODI wickets.

India can show strength in depth

Dhawan is set to lead a young side as India look to show their strength in depth with the World Cup to come on home soil next year. 

Deepak Hooda and Arshdeep Singh are among the players who will be looking to make their mark in the Caribbean.

Ishan Kishan will also hope to get another chance at the top of the order.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons expects a much better showing from the team’s batsmen ahead of the upcoming series against India.

The Windies line-up struggled mightily against Bangladesh, albeit in difficult circumstances for batting in the most recent One Day International series.  In three matches the team, batting first on each occasion, managed just a total of 435.

The team’s captain Nicholas Pooran was the team’s scorer with 91 runs but scored 73 in the final game when the series was already decided.  Shamarh Brooks was the next best and he totalled 42 over the three matches.  Despite facing superior opposition, India, in another series beginning on Friday, Simmons does not expect such a brutal showing with the bat.

“You expect a better batting performance.  You don’t really want to make excuses and in the last game we showed what we should have shown in the first two games, on what were bad cricket wickets on whole but we expect differently,” Simmons told members of the media on Wednesday.

“We’ve had two days of practice, we practiced yesterday and a really good session today, something that we did not get between Dominica and Guyana because of the rain that stopped us from practicing.  From the sessions I have seen so far, the guys seem to be switched on again.”

Jos Buttler acknowledged England are "not producing what we are capable of" after India won the ODI series 2-1 at Old Trafford.

England followed the trend of a bowler-dominated series, losing early wickets after being put into bat by Rohit Sharma in the decider on Sunday.

But new white-ball captain Buttler led the recovery with 60 alongside Moeen Ali (34) before Craig Overton's 32 helped the hosts post 259 all out.

England appeared well-placed to defend the total when Reece Topley dismissed Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit and Virat Kohli to leave India reeling at 38-3.

Yet Rishabh Pant combined with Hardik Pandya (71) for an unbroken stand of 133 as the wicketkeeper-batsman crafted his maiden ODI century, guiding the tourists to a five-wicket victory with 47 balls to spare.

Pant dazzled with his 125 off 113 deliveries, but Buttler missed a glorious stumping chance when the left-hander was on just 18 and paid a heavy price.

"It was a good wicket once you got yourself in, so we were a bit light with the bat. But the start we made with the ball gave us a chance and that missed stumping cost us," Buttler said.

"Pant is a really good player. If you give good players a chance they will hurt you and had we taken those chances we had a good hold with a long tail. But with the score we put up we had to take all our chances.

"We are not quite hitting our straps as a batting unit, but we are not far off. We are just not producing what we are capable of. So hopefully individually and collectively we can find a solution.

"These guys are fantastic to work and there is still a lot of enjoyment. Hopefully we will find our best cricket soon.

"I am an experienced cricketer but a young captain, so I am not worrying too much. I have lots to learn, and I need time to do that."

Hardik set the tone with the ball for India with career-best ODI figures of 4-24 that included the all-rounder having the final say in a short-ball battle with Liam Livingstone (27) by getting him caught on the boundary.

Livingstone and Hardik exchanged words throughout the contest and, despite the India star's wry smile upon the England batter's dismissal, he says the pair's relationship is amicable.

"White ball cricket is something very close to me," Hardik said after India completed 2-1 series victories over England in both the T20I and ODIs.

"I cherish my white-ball game. We all know England are such a good team. For us it was important to check ourselves out with our plans and the World Cup ahead.

"It was an ideal chance for us to step up and show what we have. It was important for me to come in and stop the runs and bowl as many dots.

"We took two wickets early, but they recovered well and were cruising. I love short balls. I don't fancy people taking me on, it always gets me into the game.

"I don't mind getting hit for six sixes as long as I take wickets. I am good pals [with Livingstone] but at the end of the day that's his game. He takes his chances on."

Hardik was also quick to hail the efforts of Pant, saying: "Today he played the situation. Our partnership changed the game and the way he finished the game was special."

All-rounder and former captain Jason Holder has been named among a 13-player squad to face India in the three-match CG United ODI Series in Trinidad. Holder missed the just-concluded series against Bangladesh to help manage his workload as one of the West Indies' all-format players.

West Indies and India will compete for the CG United trophy with the matches to be played on Friday, July 22, Sunday, July 24, and Wednesday, July 27, at the historic Queen’s Park Oval. All matches start at 9:30 am (8:30 am Jamaica Time/7 pm India time).

Lead Selector, The Most Hon. Dr Desmond Haynes said he is glad to have Holder back playing again.

“As we all know, Jason is one of the leading all-round cricketers in the world and we’re happy to have him back in the team. He will be refreshed, re-energized and ready to go and we can expect to see his brilliance on the field and meaningful contributions off the field as well,” Dr Haynes said.

“We had a very challenging three matches against Bangladesh in Guyana so we will be looking to rebound when we face India in the conditions in Trinidad. We have seen some growth among some players, but overall we need to regroup and play better against the Indians.”

The full squad: Nicholas Pooran (Captain), Shai Hope (Vice Captain), Shamarh Brooks, Keacy Carty, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Jayden Seales.

Reserves: Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jr.

Reece Topley decimated the India batting line-up with the best figures in ODI cricket for England to level the series, teeing up a winner-takes-all decider at Old Trafford.

Jos Buttler's side were skittled for just 110 in the opening clash, their lowest score in a men's ODI since 2014, and again struggled early on at Lord's after being reduced to 87-4 on Thursday.

Yuzvendra Chahal (4-47) was the pick of the bowlers as he accounted for the in-form Jonny Bairstow (38), Joe Root (11) and Ben Stokes (21), but England managed to scramble to 246 all out.

Liam Livingstone steadied the ship and led the recovery with a run-a-ball 33, before all-rounders Moeen Ali (47) and David Willey (41) crafted patient innings against a relentless India bowling attack.

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan made light work of the chase in the 10-wicket opening win, but the captain soon fell at the home of cricket – pinned in front by Topley without scoring.

Topley removed Dhawan, caught behind on nine shortly after, before Virat Kohli (16) followed in the same fashion to Willey and Rishabh Pant (0) was dismissed by Brydon Carse (1-32).

Suryakumar Yadav (27) was then bowled by Topley, with India reeling at 73-5, and matters soon worsened when Hardik Pandya (29) was caught off the bowling of Moeen (1-30).

A slower ball then fooled Mohammed Shami (23), with Stokes taking the catch for Topley before Livingstone bowled Ravindra Jadeja (29) with his first ball.

Topley sealed the 100-run victory by knocking over the stumps of Chahal (three) before having Prasidh Krishna (nought) caught behind.

Terrific Topley

Topley did his hopes of featuring at the T20 World Cup no harm with some impressive performances against India in the shortest format, and his performance at Lord's will have increased his stock further.

The left-arm quick picked up his six wickets for just 24 runs, his best figures in this format and the best for England ever, displacing Paul Collingwood's 6-31 against Bangladesh in 2005 at the top.

Classy Chahal efforts in vain

Bairstow, Root and Stokes are among three of the finest batters in world cricket, and leg-spinner Chahal bamboozled each of the trio to dismiss them either bowled or lbw.

The 31-year-old soon added Moeen to his list of scalps, taking Chahal to 79 wickets in T20I cricket – the most for India in the shortest format, nine clear of second-placed Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

England men's managing director Rob Key could not foresee Ben Stokes' Test captaincy starting in such a promising fashion.

Stokes and Brendon McCullum were appointed as the new captain-coach combination following April's resignation of Joe Root, who had won just one of his past 17 Tests as skipper.

The new leadership duo have restored interest in the five-day game, with their enthralling and attacking approach to red-ball cricket enticing crowds up and down the country.

England started their new era with a 3-0 series whitewash over world Test champions New Zealand, chasing scores of over 250 on each occasion, but saved their best for the rescheduled clash with India.

McCullum's side were set 378 to win by India at Edgbaston and England duly obliged, completing their highest Test chase with relative ease to record a memorable seven-wicket victory.

South Africa are the next to visit in a three-Test series before England tour Pakistan in the longest format of the game, and Key cannot believe the start Stokes has made to life as captain.

"I never thought it would work like this," Key told BBC Test Match Special. "There will be times when it won't work, but for now it's been fantastic to see."

McCullum has previously lamented the use of the term 'Bazball', referencing the New Zealand great's willingness to embrace an attacking approach, and Key suggested he is also uneasy with the phrase.

"I'm not mad on Bazball the phrase," Key added. "It's not something I particularly enjoy because it devalues what Ben and Brendon have done.

"They've been so premeditated almost and methodical in the way they've spoken to people and that's what's made the difference and let them get to this point which is so much more than, 'Oh, we're just going to go out there and look to be positive and play a few shots'.

"Brendon will at times on purpose say to one of the players like Ollie Pope 'I can't get to the ground, give us a lift' and that's when he's doing his work with them.

"There have been all these moments when they have made sure that they've used the right terminology and that's what's bred the confidence."

Key was tasked with transforming English cricket after his appointment as managing director, and his first steps to appoint McCullum appeared somewhat a risk.

McCullum boasted coaching experience in franchise cricket with the Kolkata Knight Riders and Trinbago Knight Riders, yet he had never been in charge of a first-class side despite captaining New Zealand.

"I saw it as though I had two choices," Key added. "Did the England team, the Test team in particular, need someone who was going to be like a drill sergeant, a real hard taskmaster who's going to be really tough on them and try and drive them in that way?

"I felt they needed someone to just take the pressure off them a little bit. I wanted someone who, with the talented players that we had, just freed them up a bit and got them out there to be the best players they possibly can be."

India stars Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have been rested for the upcoming five-match T20I series against West Indies.

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who has the most wickets for India in the shortest format (79), is another key figure rested for the series, which starts on July 29 in Trinidad.

Kohli missed the opening ODI against England due to an apparent groin strain, with reports suggesting he had requested to be left out of the following limited-overs tour against the West Indies.

The 33-year-old has not scored a century in any format of cricket since November 2019, last doing so when he scored 136 in a Test against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens, leading to questions over his form.

Kohli is thought to still be in India's plans for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia, though Rohit Sharma's side will do without the batter for the next series after naming their 18-man squad.

Kuldeep Yadav and KL Rahul are both set to return from injuries, subject to fitness, with Ravichandran Ashwin joining a spin department that already includes Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja.

Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant were rested for the ODI series against West Indies, which precedes the T20I clashes, but are in the squad for the fixtures in the shortest format.

Meanwhile, Arshdeep Singh was preferred ahead of quick Umran Malik in the pace bowling department, which includes Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel.

India T20I squad in full: Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav*, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh.

*Inclusion of KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav is subject to fitness.

Jasprit Bumrah recorded an incredible six-wicket haul as India wrecked England's batting order en route to a 10-wicket ODI win at a stunned Oval. 

The imperious Bumrah took centre stage as the tourists dismissed four of England's top batters for ducks during a sensational start on Tuesday, finishing 6-19 as he led a scintillating attack.

England's total of 110 all out represented their lowest in a men's ODI since they registered just 99 against Sri Lanka in 2014, and their lowest ever score against India in the format.

Bumrah, meanwhile, recorded the best-ever figures by an Indian bowler against England in one-day cricket, before Rohit Sharma's 76 not out completed India's crushing victory in rapid fashion, the chase completed in just 18.4 overs.

Jason Roy (0) was the first to fall victim to Bumrah's terrific display in a chastening start for the hosts, with Joe Root's (0) second-ball dismissal following before the end of the second over.

Mohammed Shami then stepped up to remove Ben Stokes for a golden duck before Bumrah returned to send in-form Jonny Bairstow (7) and Liam Livingstone packing – the latter for yet another duck – as the hosts collapsed to 26-5.

A recovery of-sorts led by skipper Jos Buttler (30) saw England edge past their worst-ever score in the format (86 against Australia in 2001), but it proved little consolation as Bumrah finished the hosts off with the wickets of Brydon Carse (15) and David Willey (21).

As expected, India had little trouble in cruising to that target, doing so without loss as opening par Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan (31no) sealed a lead for India in the three-match series. 

Brilliant Bumrah breaks new ground

Bumrah's six-wicket haul left England shell-shocked and represented the best display of his ODI career, surpassing a return of 5-27 against Sri Lanka in 2017.

Meanwhile, his 6-19 represents the best ever performance by any bowler at The Oval, as well as the fourth-best at any ground in England.

Ducks galore as woeful England slump

England left themselves with little chance of competing with India after losing four of their top six batters to ducks (Roy, Root, Stokes and Livingstone).

Not since England did likewise against Australia in January 2018 had such a fate befallen any side in a men's ODI contest.

England will draft in the big-hitters from their in-form Test team as they look to bounce back from a T20I series defeat to India in their three-match ODI series.

Jos Buttler's first series as permanent white-ball captain following Eoin Morgan's retirement did not go to plan as India claimed a 2-1 win.

The hosts avoided a whitewash with victory in the third match at Trent Bridge, with Buttler having called on his side to be "braver" in the wake of defeats at the Ageas Bowl and Edgbaston.

Having more confidence over the course of a 50-over series should be easier for the reigning world champions with Test captain Ben Stokes and Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow –  the latter pair each in remarkable form in the red-ball game – set to link up with the squad. Fast bowler Craig Overton is also due to come into the group.

"They're obviously world-class players," head coach Matthew Mott said ahead of the series opener at The Oval on Tuesday. "As a coach, it's a great opportunity to learn from probably some of the best players in this format of all time.

"They'll bring some energy into the group, and they're really excited to be there. I don't think they'll have to change a hell of a lot from the way they've been playing, but it's a slightly different format.

"They come in pretty hot, and we're straight into it: that's the modern game. We'll see how everyone pulls up."

India's main selection issue surrounds whether to pick Suryakumar Yadav, whose electric 117 in the third T20I proved in vain.

Suryakumar's century came in just 48 balls and, with an impressive average of 53.40 from seven ODIs, India may back him to carry that form into the 50-over game and pick him over Shreyas Iyer.

The tourists won the most recent ODI series between the teams back in March 2021; however, history is against them carrying on where they left off in a seven-run series-clinching victory in Pune and prevailing at The Oval.

Indeed, India have not won successive men's ODIs against England since January 2017, while Buttler's men head into the game trying to preserve an unbeaten run at The Oval that stretches back to 2015. New Zealand were the last team to beat England in ODI cricket at the south London venue.

Rohit and Kohli's contrasting form

India's captain Rohit Sharma clearly feels at home playing in England. He has seven centuries in 24 ODI innings in England, the most by any visiting player. The 1,335 runs he has scored in England have come at a gaudy average of 66.75.

By contrast, Virat Kohli remains in a substantial slump. He has gone 77 innings in international cricket without a century. Him breaking that streak would go a long way to helping India claim another white-ball series win.

Will Buttler get back to his best?

Buttler, the top scorer in this year's Indian Premier League, endured uncharacteristic struggles with the bat in the T20I series, scoring only 22 runs across three matches. However, he was in rude form in the recent ODI series with the Netherlands, the highlight of which was his incredible 162 in 70 deliveries.

England will look for him to return to that level against much tougher opposition, but even if he cannot do so at The Oval, England have insurance in the form of Root, the world's top Test batter who has 548 runs in 10 ODI innings at an average of 68.50 at the venue, and his fellow Yorkshireman Bairstow.

Bairstow posted scores of 94 and 124 in last year's series in India and should have no difficulty translating his scorching red-ball form to the white-ball game having scored four centuries in his past five Test innings through an extremely attacking approach.

England cricketing great Kevin Pietersen has likened the controversial LIV Golf International Series to the formation of the Indian Premier League and hopes golf can soon settle its differences.

Pietersen was no stranger to controversy as a talented multi-format player, with his commitment to England questioned after the inaugural IPL, when lucrative T20 franchise cricket was born.

The South Africa-born batter captained England for just three Tests and 12 ODIs before his resignation and ultimately announced his international retirement in 2012 after scheduling disagreements – only to soon return.

Pietersen reportedly took issue with the strain put on players by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with their involvement in franchise cricket around the world limited.

The 42-year-old, who suggested English players were jealous of those offered lucrative IPL contracts, spent the latter stages of his career in various domestic leagues, appearing in tournaments across India, Australia, Pakistan and the Caribbean.

Having been bought for a whopping £1.1million by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the second edition of the then-controversial IPL in 2009, Pietersen remains aware of the potential for differences of opinion when it comes to new beginnings in sport.

LIV Golf has come under intense scrutiny, with vocal opponents criticising the Saudi-backed breakaway league, which offers lucrative prize funds that the PGA Tour is yet to compete with.

Ten major champions have defected to LIV Golf, leaving a cloud hanging over the final major of the year, The Open Championship, where the R&A has allowed breakaway players to feature despite their PGA Tour bans.

Pietersen, speaking after playing the Old Course, St Andrews ahead of The 150th Open on Monday, hopes the issues between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour will soon be resolved.

"I don't really have a take on it because it doesn't matter what I think," he said. 

"But having been part of the Indian Premier League and franchise cricket around the world, I think eventually – and I hope – that everything just merges and everybody lives as one happy family in the future.

"Sport is such a unifying thing. It unifies people, it unifies countries, unifies teams, and the ability to make it into something great is important.

"So, I just hope that for the greater good of the sport, things happen in the next few years. Clearly, there was going to be an outcry at the start by certain people in certain countries. 

"But let's hope that in two, three years' time, golf is celebrated for the great game that it is."

Pietersen has been offered the chance to play at St Andrews before the major starts and believes the short distance of the course may offer the injury-hampered Tiger Woods a chance of success.

"These guys are just so special. I mean, they are quite something when they perform to the calibre of performances that we see these kinds of freak shows," he added.

"[Xander] Schauffele comes in with great form, having won three times in the last three weeks or so. Louis [Oosthuizen] as well, he won, and then he got a runner-up.

"I think you come in here with experience and – you can relate it back to cricket – there are certain grounds in the world that you go to [where] you think, 'Okay, I have a real good chance here because I know this place. I love this place and I know how to bat here.'

"So I think, in terms of golf, there will be a few players that say, 'Yep, I know this place. I like this place'. 

"Maybe even Tiger, this is not a hard walk; we walked it yesterday, this is a very easy walk. For him to be able to turn up here, show that dedication and commitment months ago towards this tournament... you never know.

"We played next to him yesterday, and he played in front of us. There's a crazy sound that comes off the back when he hits, it's very special."

Ben Stokes has taken Test cricket by storm with his attacking approach to captaining England, but the all-rounder must value his wicket more.

That is the message from former England batter Kevin Pietersen, who hailed the start Stokes has made as skipper, winning each of his first four Tests.

Stokes and Brendon McCullum have restored interest in the five-day game, with their aggressive intent in the longest format resulting in a series whitewash of New Zealand and victory over India.

In each of those victories, England have chased down scores of more than 275 runs and they saved their best until last with a seven-wicket win over India, completing their highest Test chase of 378 with ease.

Yorkshire duo Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root have been the standout performers for McCullum's side, and Pietersen believes the attitude of Stokes is refreshing for the England set-up and cricket in general.

"They're doing something incredible. The last few run chases, pretty much record-breaking. I have been watching it in astonishment," Pietersen said after playing the Old Course, St Andrews ahead of the 150th Open Championship.

"We were all astonished by Ben Stokes winning the toss and saying, 'we'll chase'. I mean, I'd never heard of that in my life. I was standing with Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain, and we were like, 'did he just say that?'

"No one's ever said that before and, fair play, if you're going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. The wickets have been very good, so they've been able to do that.

"Can you do that in India on day three, day four of a Test match? I'm not so sure but I think these guys are good enough.

"And if they play with that freedom, of spirit and mind, they can achieve some cool things. I'm all in to watch how it goes."

Stokes has courted criticism for embodying England's approach too excessively after somewhat cheap dismissals against New Zealand and India, though, and Pietersen urged for caution from the captain.

"The only thing I do see and want to see is that he does value his wicket a little more than then what I saw in Birmingham, he's too good a player to slog it straight in the air," he added.

"He's too good a player to do that. Just have a look at how Bairstow played has played with freedom of spirit, freedom of mind.

"He accessed all areas of the ground and he puts so much pressure on the opposition. I just think Ben is better than that, and I'm sure he'll accept that, and he'll know that I just want to see him flourishing."

Bairstow has set the benchmark for 'Bazball', an endearing term for McCullum's attacking approach that the New Zealand legend is not too great a fan of.

The 32-year-old scored the second-fastest Test hundred for England at Trent Bridge before reaching three figures in three of his next four innings, the only exception being a rapid 71 not out at Headingley.

His unbeaten 114 against India marked his sixth century of 2022, which is the most by a player while batting at number five or lower in a calendar year and joint-most by an England batter in the same time period (level with Root), and Pietersen backed Bairstow to continue playing freely.

"There's no real pressure because he's not being frowned upon by the powers that be, he is being asked by the senior management to play that way," he continued.

"I think it's a privilege to be able to go out there and just express yourself. The balls up, just give it a smack and everybody says instead of smacking it that hard, I want you to smack it harder – awesome, no pressure."

England limited-overs coach Matthew Mott admitted his side must be "braver" for the T20 World Cup after being caught by surprise by the aggressive intent of India.

India cruised to a pair of comfortable victories in their first two T20I meetings with England, securing an unassailable 2-0 series lead before Sunday's final clash at Trent Bridge.

Mott revealed new England captain Jos Buttler, who replaced Eoin Morgan before the series, called on his side to be more aggressive in the outing at Nottingham with nothing to lose.

England duly delivered by posting 215-7 – their highest ever T20I score against India – as they picked up the first win since Morgan's international retirement.

A World Cup in the shortest format is to follow in Australia later in the year after T20I series against South Africa and Pakistan, and Mott implored his team to play with more freedom.

"We learned a lot of lessons in the first two games," Mott said. "India obviously came out with a really attacking mindset and put us under pressure a lot. We expected that, but the ferocity of it took us by surprise a little bit.

"After the second loss and the series loss, I thought he [Buttler] spoke exceptionally well in the group about these being the times where you learn about character.

"It's easy when you're dominating teams but we're going to learn more about ourselves playing great teams like India and South Africa leading into a World Cup – we're going to learn more about what we need in Australia when we're put under pressure.

"We talked about just being a bit braver. If anything, we could have been accused of being a bit timid with the bat. [On Sunday] we just went out there and thought, 'it's a great wicket, let's put a score out there and hang on.'

"We don't like losing but I think there is plenty that we've taken out of this series already and it sets us up well for the summer."

Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, two Test stars, are expected to return to the limited-overs side and will likely slot in at number three and four respectively.

But Dawid Malan scored an important 77 off 39 balls in the third match against India, staking his claim for the number three position, while Reece Topley also impressed with the ball as he took 3-22.

Fast bowlers Mark Wood and Jofra Archer may miss the World Cup due to injuries, and Mott admitted competition for places is wide open.

"It was an unbelievable experience for some of those bowlers," he said. "Topley was magnificent and [Richard] Gleeson has been a real find for us.

"All the intel that I've had is that it's definitely been an area that we're looking to improve, so to be under that sort of pressure and hold our nerve gives us a lot of confidence.

"I don't think [the World Cup squad] is all locked in yet. This far out, you've got so many things that could happen – whether it's injuries or form, or whatever.

"We've got a fair idea of what we think the right make-up is, but you want players to come in and perform and really warrant that spot.

"It's still open for a lot of players and that's why we are having looks at different combinations and trying to learn."

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