After a routine warmup against Ireland, the Indian cricket team is all set to face a quality England team in the three-match T20 international series which will get underway at Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday. In the recent times, both India and England have shown brilliant form in the limited-overs format registering big wins in their last series.
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India started their UK leg with astounding wins against a hapless Ireland side who struggled to come to terms with the quality of the opposition at home. The Indian team management used both the games to give an opportunity to all the players in the squad against an inexperienced Irish side. However, the visitors know the tougher challenge awaits them in form of England side who are a playing some sensational cricket. In June, the three lions have registered a thumping series win over Australia as they blanked them in the five T20Is and in the one-off T20I.
Both India and England are brimming with talent and possess some big match-winners in their squad who can make the series to watch out for. Interestingly, this will be the second time that the two sides will play a three-match T20I series. India won the previous series 2-1 at home in 2016/17 and will be looking to take the confidence of the two wins against Ireland into the England series.
Before the start of the series, let’s take a brief look at some of the players who can turn the tide in three-match rubber:-
After a scorching season with the bat in the cash-rich Indian Premier League, opener Lokesh Rahul forced his way back into the national team reckoning, especially in the limited-overs format. His 659 runs in just 14 games were always going to be too much to ignore. He missed out in the first T20I against Ireland but warmed up with a 36-ball 70 in the second T20I.
It will be nothing less than a headache for India captain Virat Kohli and the selectors to drop the in-form Rahul from the Indian team’s playing XI. However, it will be interesting to see whether the 25-year old batsman will get a chance to play at his favourite opening position or will be pushed to the middle order to accommodate?
After scripting a fairytale turnaround for Chennai Super Kings, former India captain MS Dhoni has not only silenced his critics but has also shown his worth as a player in the scheme of things for the upcoming 2019 World Cup. The veteran warhorse had his best IPL season for CSK in 2018 as he plundered 455 runs at an average of 75.83, striking at an outstanding strike-rate of 150.66.
What caught everyone’s attention was Dhoni’s intent right from the word go and his eagerness to get on with the game while ditching the old slow route at the start of the innings. He will definitely be the player to watch out in the series against Three Lions.
The form of wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav will be key for Team India in the limited-overs series against England. With his spin and guile, Kuldeep has the ability to be the deciding factor in the series for the visitors. In the first T20I of the tour against Ireland, the 23-year old spinner bagged the Man of the Match award for his outstanding spell of 4/21. He backed up the good show with 3/16 in the second game against the relatively inexperienced Irish side who completely failed to read him. However, Kuldeep real test will be against the strong batting lineup of England who have lately shown some scintillating form in white-ball cricket
Touted as the best wicket-keeper batsman in the world by Australia’s ODI skipper Tim Paine, Jos Buttler is definitely the man to watch out in the three-match rubber. After his incredible effort in the final ODI against Australia, Buttler continued his format with a blistering half-century in the T20I against the same opposition at a strike rate of over 200. It will not be an overstatement if we say that Jos Buttler is going through a Purple patch. He would face an uphill battle against talented Indian bowling attack but it is sure that we are in for a good contest!
It is an indifferent sight to see the name of an English spinner in the players to watch out list but Adil Rashid has done enough to make the cut. He was the prime reason which ensured that Australia went winless against England. He took 12 wickets in the five ODIs vs Australia where 7 of the 8 top scorers had an average of over 100. He carried that form to the one-off T20I and won the man of the match award. Along with Moeen Ali, the 30-year old Adil would be looking to spin England’s fortunes against a formidable Indian batting line-up.
(Written by Aditya Chauhan)