Can Team India Bounce Back Strongly Today
Neither India nor England
have shown deep interest in going for the favourites' tag in the ongoing T20I
series, passing the parcel before the music stops. A full-strength England
side, though, won the first match of the series comprehensively enough and won't
be able to shy away from the title for too long. That they could win on a pitch
that was holding up a bit might be a positive sign for them, not only from the
perspective of the series but also as a part of the T20 World Cup preparation.
However, despite India's struggle with the bat on Friday (March 11), there is a
Virat Kohli, the Indian skipper, admitted after the loss that it was down to poor execution, of trying to play too many shots too early when the pitch demanded a different approach - one that rewards the batters who spend more time at the wicket to get used to its pace. It wasn't the conventional flat T20 surface that pampers batsmen. It is, in fact, the kind of pitch that is more likely to aid the Indian batting approach that they want to move away from in search of 'X-factor players' and adopt a neo-T20 approach - much like their opponents have found en route success - that relies on instant and constant attack, of more boundaries if not for the higher dot-ball percentage.
Both the teams have taken different approaches; and at least by the signs from the first game, England have reaffirmed the new-found value of express pacers on slow pitches in T20 cricket. The success of Mark Wood is a good sign for the hosts and they would like to persist with it. India have taken a different route, to trouble the opposition with spin instead, However, as they found out, relying on only two frontline pacers while defending totals can be a risky proposition if dew plays a part.
Several experiments are at play, especially for the hosts, who don't have ample time as a unit before the mega-event - from finding the ideal partner for Rohit Sharma at the top to fine-tuning the middle order to finding their best bowling combination and personnel. However, they will continue to be in the quest for the answers. The thumping loss in the first T20I would have only added more questions for them to find solutions for, but they are unlikely to mind seeing the loopholes exposed at the earliest, and play the favourites later.
The hosts are likely to
continue their experiment with the Shikhar Dhawan-KL Rahul combination at the
top, and even as they haven't zeroed in on their bowling attack and the No 4,
all the players are likely to get another go. It remains to be seen though,
whether Rishabh Pant continues in that position, or Shreyas Iyer plays there.
Probable XI: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal
England are unlikely to
tinker too much with the side they picked for the first T20I as they aim to go
2-0 up and give themselves some breathing space to make changes later on in the
series. The top six will certainly remain unchanged as England look to bed in
the relatively new batting order that they first unveiled in South Africa in
November. If the surface is dry and looks like taking more turn than was on
offer in the first game, England may consider bringing in Moeen Ali as a second
spin option. That could mean that Sam Curran, who bowled just two overs in the
opening match, misses out.
Possible XI:Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan, Sam Curran/Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Adil Rashid