England’s full-fledged tour of India will enter its second stage as two teams lock horns in a five-match T20 International series to be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, starting this Friday. After thrashing the visitors 3-1 in the Test series to clinch a spot in the World Test Championship Final, India will now look to repeat the feat against a new-look Eoin Morgan’s side.
The cricketing rivalry between both countries need not be mentioned, every Indian fan knows the significance of the matches against their former colonial masters. England’s dominance in white-ball cricket in recent years has been met equally by an Indian team that has made a habit of conquering overseas turfs.
When it comes to previous meetings in the shortest format of the game, both the teams are evenly matched – with India and England winning seven each of the 14 matches. Home conditions do not give India an edge over the top-ranked team in T20Is – England have won three out of six T20Is held on Indian soil.
Within the short number of T20 matches, there have been some pretty memorable performances by both sides. The most thrilling encounter occurred at Kingsmead in Durban in 2007, when Yuvraj Singh smashed Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the first-ever T20 World Cup. That made him the first batsman to achieve the feat in T20s, and only the second-overall in International cricket.
INDIA’S PROBLEM OF PLENTY
India’s squad depth has been of the utmost help during recent years, with injuries no longer being a cause of concern for the Blues who have plenty of replacements to choose from. Apart from skipper Virat Kohli whose spot is secure in the team, there are at least two contenders for each spot in the playing XI. With this series building the lead up to the T20 World Cup later this year, the team management will be keenly scrutinising every player.
At the top of the order, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are a settled white-ball opening pair. Rohit Sharma has been in incredible form in the Test series, but Shikhar Dhawan’s spot is open for contention as KL Rahul has been on the rise in recent years. Skipper Virat Kohli prefers the No. 3 spot in white-ball cricket, and the No. 4 spot is likely to go to Shreyas Iyer who has settled the previously weak spot for the team.
Rishabh Pant’s daring innings and his growing confidence behind the wicket has all but secured his spot in the team. Hardik Pandya played the role of a specialist batsman in the Test series, but he might return to his all-rounder role in the shortest format of the game as the amount of exertion required is far less.
India’s bowling options are equally plentiful. Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja have been ruled out of the T20 series, and Jasprit Bumrah has been rested. Even then, there are multiple contenders in the fray, and only Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s spot looks secure. He is returning to the team after a long break due to injury, and the team management will hope he can once again play the role of death-bowling specialist he once earned his fame for.
Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar and Axar Patel are expected to feature in the playing XI on the sluggish Motera tracks, with the latter two dazzling Indian fans in the recently concluded Test series. If Hardik Pandya is included as a specialist batsman, Deepak Chahar or Shardul Thakur might be the other seamer as T Natarajan has been ruled out of the first few games due to injury concerns.
India Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
A NEW-LOOK ENGLAND
England arrived in India with high hopes after their recent exploits in Sri Lanka, but the team’s hopes were quickly dashed as the team folded in the face of a dominant India starting from the second Test. But white-ball cricket is a different ball-game and one in which England excel. They currently sit atop both the ICC ODI and T20I rankings, and it won’t be a cake-walk for India to defeat the visitors even with the home turf advantage.
Eoin Morgan is the most notable addition to the team, the white-ball skipper is a specialist middle-order batsman and plays a stabilising role in the team. Dawid Malan is the world’s top-ranked T20 batsman, and along with Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, England’s batting power is indeed frightening.
But England’s strength lies in the depth of its batting – Tom Curran, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer can all contribute with the bat. England’s seamers have been lacklustre on the spin-friendly Indian tracks, and England will hope Adil Rashid can surprise India’s batsmen.
England Squad: Eoin Morgan(C), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.
1st T20 PREDICTION
The recently concluded Test series has left Team India with high hopes heading into the match, while England will be hoping to regroup and start the series on a good note. White-ball cricket, especially the shortest format of the game has a different flavour, and it will be tough to predict which team will come out on top. Expect a closely-contested match with plenty of runs.
Pitch Report: The pitch for the first T20I is expected to be batsman-friendly, as it always has been in India during white-ball cricket.
India Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal,Shardul Thakur.
England Predicted XI: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Jonathan Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan(C), Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer.
When: Friday, March 12 2021 7:00 PM IST
Where: Narendra Modi Stadium, Motera.
Where to Watch: All matches of the series will be telecast live on Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.
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