Jofra Archer celebrates. (AFP)
England’s emphatic win over India in their opening T20 showdown revealed concerns for both sides as they seek to build momentum before this year’s World Cup.
Top-ranked side England must worry about the elbow of their star bowler Jofra Archer, while number two India will be fretting about their batting — with captain Virat Kohli in the spotlight after failing to score for the third time in five international innings.
Archer was declared man of the match after taking three wickets in Friday’s eight wicket trouncing of India, who could manage only 124-7 against England’s disciplined bowlers.
But after the game he revealed his struggle with a troublesome elbow that made him miss two of the four Tests in India — that England lost 3-1. And there was no firm commitment for the World Cup to be held in India in October-November, and the Ashes tour to Australia after.
“It is still a way away, I need to take care of my elbow first before I think about what is going to happen,” Archer told reporters.
Archer said that on arriving in India he told the England management his arm was “not feeling great”.
“I didn’t have to say it twice,” he said. “They jumped on it and already started making plans. We are all on the same page.
“So for me in the immediate, I am going to get through the series and then I will do everything in my power to make sure that I am going to the World Cup and the Ashes.”
His captain Eoin Morgan praised Archer’s performance in a bowling line-up full of quality pace with Mark Wood and Chris Jordan.
“He is excellent, and I think our bowling unit today again similar to our batting unit has a lot of competition for places,” Morgan said after the win.
India faltered in the T20 opener after a successful Test season with Kohli keen to fix their problems in what will almost certainly be their last 20 over series before the World Cup.
Kohli blamed a “lack of execution” by top batters whose poor shots gave Archer and spinner Adil Rashid key early wickets.
“These five games are the only ones we have before the T20 World Cup,” said Kohli.
“So we need to try a few things as well, but having said that we cannot take anything lightly, especially against a team like England which is so strong.”
Kohli’s own form remains a problem. The frustration was clear to see as he walked off after getting out to Rashid’s leg-spin just three overs into the game.
But the premier batsman said the flops have to be accepted and dealt with. His last big T20 score was an 85 against Australia in December, so analysts said there is no need to panic yet.
“It is part of the whole journey of international cricket. When you have played for that long you will have your ups and down, you have to accept that as a batsman,” said Kohli.
“On your day you will probably end up scoring much more. But the important thing is keep true to your intent and plan as a batsman and understand sometimes the bowling team will come out and execute better than your plans.”
Shreyas Iyer top-scored with 67 to boost the Indian total and said the team’s preparations are in place for the World Cup.
“We have come with a plan and we need to execute it as much as possible because going into the World Cup we need to see that we have ticked all the boxes,” Iyer said after the game.
“This is a five-match series so it’s a perfect time that we try out different stuff and see whatever suits us.”
The second match of the series is on Sunday. All five games will be at the Ahmedabad stadium to be used for the World Cup final in November.