From a team that once relied heavily on captain Morgan and one-off stars like Ben Stokes, the current English unit boasts of several quality players like Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow. Each of these individuals can run away with the game on their day and the form they are in at present, the Indian bowlers will definitely have their task cut-out.
India have suffered a setback ahead of the series with Jasprit Bumrah ruled out with a fractured thumb. Skipper Virat Kohli does have Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Siddarth Kaul, Hardik Pandya and Deepak Chahar to pick from, but missing the spearhead will definitely be a cause for concern. In the last couple of seasons Bumrah has been the go-to-man for Kohli in the death overs.
However, the Indians can take confidence from the fact that they have won 15 of their last 20 T20 internationals and that shows the kind of consistent cricket the team has played in recent times. But then, England too are coming into series after thrashing Australia in the ODI series and the lone T20I. It is undoubtedly a battle of equals with both teams looking to draw first blood in a summer where the teams will also play three ODIs and five Test matches.
The Indian middle-order is an area where Kohli will look to get it right as KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey fight for a slot. The rest of it looks sorted with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan opening the batting, followed by Kohli, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. Hardik Pandya will definitely be handed the all-rounder’s responsibility with the two spinners — Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav — and two pacers — most likely to be Kumar and Yadav — filling up the remaining spots.
Rahul’s good show in the second T20I against Ireland — 70 off just 36 balls — could actually put him slightly ahead in the race against Karthik and Pandey.
England though do not have much to fret over as the team has done exceedingly well ever since they got Buttler at the top of the innings with Roy. If the Indian bowlers have Buttler and Roy at the top, the two are followed by Joe Root, Hales and Bairstow. And with the kind of form they are in, making early inroads is the only way forward for the Indian bowlers. Not to forget the impact skipper Morgan can have late into the innings.
In the bowling department, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have been doing a great job and the two picked 12 wickets apiece in the ODIs against Australia. While Rashid followed that up with 3 wickets in the T20I against the Aussies, Ali picked one. While the current crop of Indian batsmen have failed to play spin like the golden generation, it shouldn’t be a major worry in the shortest form of the game.
When it comes to the pacers, it could be a case of three frontline pacers with David Willey, Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett filling the spots. While Jordan and Plunkett looked impressive against Australia, picking three and two wickets respectively, Willey was slightly more economical and had a wicket to show for his efforts.
The wicket at Old Trafford showed signs of favouring the bowlers in the ODI between England and Australia with Buttler needing to play a spectacular knock to take the English side home, but things should be different when it comes to the slam-bang format of the game and with the weather expected to remain clear, it could be a batting paradise on offer with runs being scored at will.
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. 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.
Jason Roy vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Roy has shown some good performances against the Australian bowlers, but it wasn’t their best attack on offer. Also, with the kind of movement that Kumar manages to get with the new ball, the slips could very well come into play with Roy at the crease.
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. But Plunkett’s awkward bounce off a length could trouble the left-hander who isn’t known to have a sound defence. While he bowled first change against Australia, skipper Morgan could be enticed to hand the new ball to the pacer against the southpaw.
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.
First Published: July 2, 2018, 5:16 PM IST