India’s English summer starts on Tuesday as Virat Kohli’s men fight it out against England in the opening T20I of the three-match series at Old Trafford in Manchester. While the Indian team comes into the series on the back of an easy 2-0 win over minnows Ireland, England beat Australia by 28 runs in the lone T20I they played on the back of a 5-0 ODI series victory.
It will undoubtedly be a battle of equals and both teams will look to draw first blood. CricketNext takes a look at the key battles going into the opening encounter:
Jos Buttler vs Kuldeep Yadav
Buttler is in the form of his life and having played successfully in the IPL, he does know what the Indian bowlers have to offer. Enjoying his stint at the top of the order, Buttler will look to dig into the Indian bowling. But Kuldeep showed against Ireland in the two T20Is that he can spin a web with his variation and change of pace and it will be interesting to see how Buttler takes on the chinaman bowler. Kohli has time and again spoken of how Kuldeep is an attacking option for him and the bowler will definitely look to bring on his best against an English batsman in breathtaking form at present.
Jason Roy vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Roy has shown some good performances against the Australian bowlers, but it wasn’t their best attack on offer. While Roy looks to stay aggressive and banks his ability to flash hard in the first six overs, it also gives bowlers an opportunity to bring the slip cordon into play and this is where Kumar could be the threat for the English batsman. With the kind of movement that Kumar manages to get with the new ball, Roy could find the going tough against the Indian fast bowler in the powerplay.
Liam Plunkett vs Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan is in the form of his life and has given the Indian team quality starts at the top. Anything in his half and Dhawan likes to send it to boundary. While playing on the off-side is the southpaw’s strength, he does get a little uncomfortable every time the ball rises off a length and this is where Plunkett’s height and his ability to extract awkward bounce could trouble the left-hander. But Plunkett was used as a first change bowler against Australia and skipper Morgan could be enticed to hand the new ball to the fast bowler against the in-form Dhawan.
Chahal vs Morgan
With 6 wickets in the T20I series against Ireland, Chahal has shown that he is well warmed-up for the English challenge. But, the biggest challenge for Chahal will be to bowl in the death overs now that Jasprit Bumrah is out with injury. And up against him will in all probabilities be England’s finisher-cum-skipper Eoin Morgan. Known for his innovative strokeplay and cross batted swats in the death overs, it will be all the more easy for Morgan against Chahal as the leg-spinners will come into the arc after pitching. But then, Chahal has a vicious googly and it will be interesting to see how the battle unfolds.
Teams: India (from): Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Hardik Pandya, Siddarth Kaul, Umesh Yadav.
England (from) : Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Dawid Malan.