England vs India, 3rd T20I
The bigger picture of India’s full tour of England was always going to be about what transpires in the ODIs and Tests. ODIs, because it gives a glimpse of where two solid contenders for the 2019 World Cup final in less than 12 months from now, stand currently. And Tests, because of the several narratives that add to the five-match contest, none better than how Virat Kohli is going to fare against his 2014 nemesis – the away swinger.
But before the teams can head to those endeavours, the T20I series has laid down the marker for the level of competitiveness that will follow. In an interesting turn of events, and scheduling, T20Is have come at the very start, and has received Kohli’s stamp of approval.
England’s cluelessness against Kuldeep Yadav in Manchester gave India a cruising start to the tour, but the hosts bit back. The odd dimensions at the stadium in Cardiff wrong-footed India and allowed England to equalise, even if they had to huff and puff to it. The finale in Bristol, thus, is expected to be a you-blink-I-hit affair with England now aware of dealing with spin, and India getting a chance to rectify theirs against pace and bounce.
Combination wise, the bigger worry belongs to England. In their victory, they’ve arrived at a conundrum. Alex Hales’s fifty means Ben Stokes’s reintegration into the final XI isn’t going to be as easy. “He [Stokes] is obviously a fantastic player, and there will be a difficult decision to make. We’ve made calls like this in the past, but we hope we’ll make it for the betterment of the team – and put out our strongest XI. Alex [Hales] always makes it difficult, particularly in T20 cricket. He’s played a lot for us – he’s one of our highest runscorers, a very experienced campaigner. An innings like that tonight makes him a pretty strong case for the next game,” Eoin Morgan said in the post-match presser in Cardiff. This means the big decision might involve relegating Joe Root to the bench, if they believe Stokes is a must-have.
Root has the backing of Paul Farbrace to succeed in the format and add a new dimension to a side filled with power-hitters, but hasn’t managed much in the one-off fixture against Australia and the two outings against India – his only T20Is this year. In the face of a tough chase, England also have the tendency of letting the likes of Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow bat ahead, pushing him down to No.6, where he doesn’t quite fit in.
When: July 8, 2018, 06:30 IST
Where: County Ground, Bristol
Pitch Condition: Third successive hot match day, and another ground with shorter straighter boundaries.
Venue Stats T20:
|Matches won bowling first||4|
|Average 1st Inns scores||139|
|Average 2nd Inns scores||141|
|Highest total recorded||151/2 (15.2 Ov) by NZW vs RSAW|
|Lowest total recorded||129/10 (18.1 Ov) by NZW vs ENGW|
|Highest score chased||151/2 (15.2 Ov) by NZW vs RSAW|
India might look to retain the same winning line-up until the series is in the bag.
The hosts don’t quite have options to turn to from the bench.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Virat Kohli(c), MS Dhoni(w), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, Kuldeep Yadav, Siddarth Kaul, Deepak Chahar.
England: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler(w), Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(c), Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Dawid Malan, Sam Curran, Jake Ball, Tom Curran.
Jos Buttler (w), Jason Roy, Joe Root, Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett/Jake Ball, David Willey, Chris Jordan.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (w), Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav.
Player to watch