ODI series preview: India v Pakistan

What the drawn Twenty20 International series could not decide, the three-match ODI affair soon will: which of the political rivals can laud cricket status over the other for the foreseeable future?

What the drawn Twenty20 International series could not decide, this three-match affair soon will: which of the political rivals can laud cricket status over the other for the foreseeable future?

For India, it's a welcome end to a testing year, in which the three-fold captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni has fetched consistent questioning. Dhoni has hinted at quitting one of the formats soon enough and, for the sake of the team and the individual, one hopes this is one of his last, if not <i>thee</i> last series of his stint as ODI captain.

Of course he can continue as wicketkeeper-batsman, but really, the additional responsibility of the captaincy must be reserved strictly for Test cricket – if the nation are to enjoy the best from their talisman for years to come.

Personnel-wise, the uncapped Shami Ahmed has been afforded the chance to prove his worth on the international stage in a big series. A relatively inexperienced crop of seamers, meanwhile, will look to do the rested Zaheer Khan proud – and the batsmen can plot life after the retired Sachin Tendulkar.

Third-place India, in fact, can leapfrog England South Africa to the top of the ODI rankings – a postion they have never achieved – if they win the series three-nil.

Pakistan had their chance in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, where they couldn't upstage India but went on to win the tournament regardless. Rivalry and revenge will be at the fore of their approach – as well as Mohammad Hafeez's new role.

Skipper in T20I cricket now, his relationship as the rest's senior senior will take some grounding, while recent choices in the the shortest format point to the opener batting in the middle order in ODI cricket too. How that shapes up, though, will rely on the recalled Younis Khan's contribution, and Misbah's lasting presence.

Bilateral ties resumed and relationships mended, this string of one-dayers really will serve international cricket well, and resign to the past punctuated year-to-year meetings with three solid clashes.

<b>Key Men</b><br>India's seam ranks are genuinely lean on experience, leaving a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of <b>Ishant Sharma</b> to come to the party time and time again.

Relieved of the captaincy, <b>Misbah-ul-Haq</b> has been freed up to really take to a format that has begged question of his abilities in the past.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012: Asia Cup: India won by six wickets in Dhaka<br>2011: World Cup, semi-final: India won by 29 runs in Mohali<br>2010: Asia Cup: India won by three wickets in Dambulla<br>2009: Champions Trophy, Group A: Pakistan won by 54 runs in Centurion<br>2008: Asia Cup: Pakistan won by eight wickets in Karachi

<b>Prediction</b><br>Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Sky Bet</b></a> have India at 8/13 and Pakistan at 5/4 in the odds to win the series. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting</b></a>.

More <a href='https://twitter.com/bet365' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket bets</b></a> here.

<b>Squads</b><br><i>India:</i> Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Amit Mishra.

<i>Pakistan:</i> Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Haris Sohail, Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Imran Farhat, Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali, Zulfiqar Babar.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: 30 December, Chennai<br>Second ODI: 3 January, Kolkata<br>Third ODI: 6 January, Delhi