After a thoroughly professional performance against Ireland, the buoyant Indian cricket team looks all set to face the heat against upbeat England in the three-match Twenty20 international series which starts at Old Trafford in Manchester on July 3. Team India showed no signs of rustiness and has made a fantastic start to their UK leg with a commanding performance against Ireland.

The men in blue registered thumping win against the young and inexperienced Irish side in the two-match Twenty20I series. They defeated the hosts by 76 runs in the first match and won the second by a record-margin of 143 runs at The Village in Dublin.

As the countdown for the cricket’s biggest showpiece event – 2019 ODI World Cup has already ticked off, both India and England will leave no stone unturned to test their skills in the blockbuster series. As far as the form of both the teams is concerned, India and England have shown some scintillating form in the recent times.

On one hand, India has won 15 of their last 20 T20 internationals including the famous Nidahas Trophy final in Sri Lanka and the bilateral series against South Africa. Whereas, England have also stamped their authority as the limited-overs heavyweight with a 6-0 drubbing of Australia in the recently concluded five-match ODI series and in one-off T20I.

Let’s take a look at some of the key battles which could be in everyone’s mind as the two teams collide in the thrilling three-match T20I series:

Virat Kohli vs Liam Plunkett

With vengeance in his mind, Virat Kohli will be eager to look to put behind the struggles of 2014 tour in England in the upcoming three-match T20I series in England. The India captain who boasts of a healthy average of close to 50 in T20Is doesn’t have a great record with the bat against Three Lions in the shortest format. However, knowing the calibre of Kohli, the hosts will not make a mistake of writing off the Indian skipper.

England pacer Liam Plunkett is likely to be the biggest thorn in the flesh for Kohli. The 33-year old pacer has played 16 T20 internationals, picked up 21 wickets at a decent economy rate of 7.56. With his extra bounce and swing, the lanky pacer has that in him to trouble Kohli in the seaming conditions.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Jos Buttler

This will be another interesting battle to look out for from the much-anticipated India vs England series. Rated highly for his skills, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be spearheading the Indian bowling attack in absence of Jasprit Bumrah. After a quiet outing in the cash-rich IPL and in the first T20I against Ireland, the wily Kumar will look to find his form back against a dominating English side. The 28-year old pacer is known to keep things tight under pressure and his economy of 6.62 in 27 T20Is adds more weight to this fact.

Bhuvi’s biggest adversary from the opposition camp will be England’s wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler. After an impressive outing in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) for Rajasthan Royals, Buttler has been sensational in all the formats of the game in the last 3 months. His aggressive batting and ability to counter-attack is something which Team India will have to be vary off. His battle against Bhuvi, especially in the death overs can prove to be a thriller.

Hardik Pandya vs Moeen Ali

All-rounders tend to play an important role irrespective of the format they are playing in. The battle between two of world’s finest all-rounders – Hardik Pandya and Moeen Ali will be another clash to watch out for. Both Pandya and Ali are expected to contribute with both bat and bowl to lend their sides a perfect balance in the T20 format. Pandya’s strike rate of close to 148 with the bat is enough to instil fear in the minds of the opposition bowlers. His usefulness with the ball is also one of the aspects to watch out for in the series against England.

On the other side, English all-rounder Moeen Ali is also an important cog in the hosts playing XI. Áfter a magnificent performance with the ball against Australia in the recently-concluded limited over series, Ali will be looking to repeat his heroics against a strong Indian team. The 31-year old picked up 13 wickets in five ODIs and in one-off T20I against Kangaroos to lead England to a memorable series victory.

(Written by Aditya Chauhan)