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1st T20I Preview: T20I World Cup readiness on Mind as India Clash With England at Motera

Riding high on confidence after a fascinating 3-1 series win in Tests, India are all set to extend their form into T20Is now as they take on England in a five-match series, starting today (Friday) at Motera, Ahmedabad. The T20I World Cup is about 7 months away and both India and England would like to carry out all their experiments in this series to be battle-ready with their squads for the mega event.

India have added quite a few young guns to the squad on the basis of their IPL exploits. Skipper Virat Kohli felt this would be the right time for them to make it count on the international stage, keeping in mind the T20I World Cup. “Whatever addition we have made to the squad has been done to address a few things that we needed in specific, especially guys who can be X-factors with the bat. They have done well in the IPL. It will be interesting to see how these guys go about things in these five games because these are the only games we have before the World Cup,” Kohli said on the eve of the first match.

There has been quite a buzz around the Motera pitch so far, but for the T20Is, it's most likely to be batting-friendly. As far as India's batting line-up is concerned, Kohli on Thursday hinted at opening the innings with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. In that scenario, we will have to see if Shikhar Dhawan makes the cut or not.

"If Rohit plays, then it's quite simple, KL and Rohit have been consistently performing at the top of the order for us and those two would start," Kohli stated in a press conference.

The skipper is likely to come first down, while at No. 4, which has been a pain point for India so far, the team has the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kisan to choose from. Rishabh Pant's phenomenal run in Test series makes him an obvious choice behind the wickets.

Hardik Pandya is likely to be another name in the fold for his explosive batting and effective bowling skills. Pandya had undergone a back surgery in 2019 and didn't bowl at all during the IPL. However the charsmatic player seems to be back in his all-round groove now.

"He's done pretty much everything so it seems that the right time is here for him to get ready and do what he does best. He has done a lot of hard work to be at his peak with both bowling and batting and we hope he delivers what the team expects out of him," Rohit Sharma said while talking about Pandya.

In the bowling department, with Jasprit Bumrah going on leave citing personal commitments, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is likely to make a return following his recovery from an injury to form the pace attack with Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini. T Natarajan is nursing shoulder niggles which will keep him out of reckoning. Yuzvendra Chahal is likely to spearhead the spin challenge with either Washington Sundar or Axar Patel in the absence of Varun Chakravarthy and Rahul Tewatia, who bowed out after failing the fitness test. 

For England, Skipper Eoin Morgan will have the service of explosive batters like Dawid Malan, who is currently the No. 1 T20I player in ICC rankings. Jason Roy, who went unsold in the IPL auction, is also back in the squad. Morgan talking to reporters on the T20I series said, "It's going to be, from our point of view, a learning process, going through the situation we might find ourselves in seven months' time in the World Cup. The perfect case scenario is that we are playing one of the best sides in the world at their own backyard and we know they are very difficult to beat, regardless they are playing at home or not."

 

Squads:

India

Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur.

 

England

Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.