After a sensational come-from-behind spectacle in the Test series, India is geared up to lock horns with England in a five-match T20I series that goes underway from Friday. Barring the victory in the first Test, there is little that has gone England’s way and come to the shortest format, they would undoubtedly be itching to put a better display. The stakes of the series, as they would be in any battle between the topmost ranked sides, are quite high. And only more so, with a nearing T20I World Cup.
Ever since these two sides met in 2018 – when India won the three-match series 2-1 – England’s rise in the format has been meteoric: they have 15 wins in 21 completed encounters, which includes the 2-1 beating of Australia in September, followed by a 3-0 clean sweep at home against South Africa in November. That England has managed this despite the absence of many of their first-choice players on different occasions – either due to rotation or fitness issues – is evidence of their strength in the format.
Whom should England thank for this green patch the most? Perhaps, it is hard to zero down one individual to attribute team success, although Eoin Morgan most certainly deserves every accolade for his tactical sharpness and leadership instincts. From England’s perspective, there will not be a better chance than this series and the approaching season of the IPL to acclimatize themselves with conditions they will face come to the T20I World Cup.
On the other hand is India, who is not only the only side that has defeated England in the last two years but has scripted performance at par, if not better than their rivals: 22 wins in 31 completed encounters in the same window. While for India, the memories of the 2-1 triumph in the T20I series against Australia last year must be fresh, the memories of playing a 20-over contest in their homeland won’t be as much: last India played a T20I at home was in January 2020 against Sri Lanka, after which the arrival of COVID-19 disrupted the every sporting calendar without exception.
On the question of how much does this series matters to India’s World Cup preparations, Rohit Sharma opined it to be a “dress rehearsal” at best. “It’s a long series, we need to see where we stand but there’s no time for rehearsal. We need that mindset of winning each game that we play, it is important to win the series and do our best.” Although understanding India’s problem of plenty, this is one of the better opportunities to finalize a few names that will feature on the team sheets for the World Cup.
Pitch and conditions
There are as many as 11 surfaces at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad, which is set to host the T20I series in its entirety. While it remains to be seen whether teams will have to play any game on a used surface, later on, a fresh pitch with ample assistance for the spinners is expected for the first fixture. The revamped stadium has previously been a host for only a solitary T20I fixture that India won by 11 runs against Pakistan in 2012. The weather forecast is clear.
Playing combinations for IND vs ENG
Not too often in the recent past has India had all four in Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli available. Given that Rohit Sharma is a sure starter, the management will need to scratch their heads a bit as far as the team’s opening combination is concerned. However, since Shikhar Dhawan cannot be slotted in the middle-order, it seems that Sharma-Dhawan is the way out with Kohli and Rahul following.
With Suryakumar Yadav waiting in the wings, the number 4 spot has some breathtaking competition between KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Yadav. That said, Rahul’s experience might pip the other two for the moment. Hardik Pandya, who has been away from bowling for almost a year owing to his back injury, was seen practicing with the ball ahead of the first game. Meanwhile, India now also has the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who returns to international action after December 2019.
Given the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami, either one in Deepak Chahar or Navdeep Saini must be alongside Bhuvneshwar, with a specialist spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal and spin all-rounders Washington Sundar and Axar Patel. Shardul Thakur has shone with the bat in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and given his hitting prowess lower down the order, he must pick himself alongside Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya in that slot.
Predicted XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul/Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini/Deepak Chahar
England, though, do not have as many questions staring them in their eyes while drawing an eleven, they do need to ascertain a few roles keeping in mind their future preparations. In the previous edition of IPL, from Sam Curran to Ben Stokes, quite a few Englishmen highlighted their repertoire at the opening spot. More notably, Dawid Malan played the opener’s role to perfection against Australia. Given that Jos Buttler can well play the finisher’s role, England might fancy meddling things at the top a tad bit.
However, should they chose the same approach as, during their 3-0 triumph against South Africa, they might simply continue with the Roy-Buttler duo at the top with Malan at 3 and Stokes acting as the finisher. Jason Roy will have added burden with another able contender in Jonny Bairstow in contention for the opener’s role. Meanwhile, Moeen Ali has been added to the mix of things, and alongside Adil Rashid, he will form a potent spin pair.
England must be fretting over the availability of Jofra Archer, who is nursing an elbow injury. In case he misses out, one amongst Reece Topley or Mark Wood will partner Chris Jordan as the pacer.
Predicted XI: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (WK), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (C), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Reece Topley/Mark Wood
IND vs ENG Head to Head
Played – 14 | India – 7 | England – 7
Played – 6 | India – 3 | England – 3
Virat Kohli is only 72 runs short of becoming the first batsman to reach the 3000-run mark in T20Is.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah are currently tied as the leading wicket-taker for India (59) in T20Is.
English skipper Eoin Morgan is only three matches short of 100 T20I caps.
Jonny Bairstow is 68 runs short of completing 1000 runs in T20I cricket.
IND vs ENG Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 7:00 PM (IST)
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney + Hotstar VIP
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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