In the topsy-turvy world of T20 cricket, it is not a wise idea to get too ahead of oneself, especially when there is little to differentiate between the competing teams. So world No.2 India will be aware that their convincing win on Sunday does not guarantee them an upper hand over No.1 England when the two teams lock horns again in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
England were quick off the blocks with an easy win in the opener, but India hit back with vengeance in the second game. What next? Will India be able to take the lead in the five-match series? Or will Eoin Morgan’s powerful team stage a turnaround?
Being the hosts, India will perhaps enjoy a bit of an edge, knowing the conditions better.
But the IPL has shrunk the T20 world drastically and so most of the Englishmen are not exactly alien to the demands of playing cricket’s shortest format in Indian conditions.
The seven-wicket win in the last match notwithstanding, India will be a bit worried about their opening pair. Young Ishan Kishan emphatically passed the opening test, but KL Rahul has been poor with scores of 1 & 0 so far.
India might look to bring in Rohit Sharma, who was rested for the first two games. One would be interested to see how the Rohit-Ishan combination does at the top of the order. If they gel well, India will go into October’s T20 World Cup with one of the most potentially explosive opening pairs in current cricket.
The middle-order looks sorted with captain Virat Kohli back among runs and Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant looking in fine fettle.
The same cannot be said about the bowling attack though. Not that they have been playing poorly, but barring the last five overs in Sunday’s match, the Englishmen did not have too many problems countering Kohli’s bowlers. Reverse sweeps aplenty against his bowling seemed to have confused Yuzvendra Chahal somewhat, while the others lacked enough bite.
England will hope to get Mark Wood back in the team after the speedster missed the second game with a niggle. Wood, who consistently fires 150kmph missiles, clearly rattled the Indian batsmen in the first game. His replacement Tom Curran did not make even half his impact.
Wood or no Wood, Tom, brother of Sam, may in any way make way for Moeen Ali. England will perhaps need the all-rounder’s spin bowling skills on Tuesday.
If Wood is fit enough to play, Chris Jordan may have to sit out.
After two games on pitches made of black soil, Tuesday’s match is likely to be contested on a red-soil track. That essentially means that it would assist the spinners more than the pacers.
England’s nightmares against the turning deliveries ruined their Test campaign. Will the T20 side do better? Well, they have the firepower to negate the turn, but putting theory into practice is an entirely different matter.
India will not be complaining though. They have two good spinners in Chahal and Washington Sundar, and if need be, they might even throw in an Axar Patel in the ring.
⚫ Match starts: 7pm