Venue: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Date: Friday, March 12th
This is being billed as the battle of the two powerhouses in T20I cricket and given the form of both India and England coming into this one, it is easy to see why that is the case. While India was completely dominant in the Test series in their just-concluded 3-1 win against the tourists, the wickets that were torn up in the longest form of the game – providing the spin that India loves to use at home – simply won’t be as prevalent here.
India hasn’t lost a T20I series since they were beaten 2-0 by Australia at home back in February 2019. Since then they have picked up results like a pair of series wins against the West Indies, a 1-1 draw at home to South Africa, and a completely dominant 5-0 win in New Zealand last year. This is the No. 2 T20I team in the world, a fact they reinforced in their last series where they beat Australia 2-1 (in Australia) in their first series back following the Covid-19 pandemic.
India may be the No. 2 ranked squad in this format in the world, but they are facing the very best here as No. 1 ranked England looks to show their dominance in the shortest format of the game in this five-match series. England hasn’t lost a T20I series since going down 2-1 to India back in 2018 and they have won seven of their last eight series in all with the only non-victory in that span coming in a 1-1 draw at home with Pakistan in 2020. Eoin Morgan and his men have won their last five series away from home, including impressive victories in South Africa (3-), West Indies (3-0), and New Zealand (3-2).
India will be without a pair of bowlers here as spinner Varun Chakravarthy and yorker specialist T Natarajan have both been ruled out of this first match – and potentially longer – against England. Chakravarthy is the most frustrating of the two as he has recovered from a shoulder injury but has failed to meet the minimum fitness requirement in the 2-km yo-yo test. Natarajan’s issue is a little more straightforward, with the powerful bowler is struggling with a shoulder niggle.
The rest and rotation policy of the England squad – something that has been widely criticized by former players and the press back in the UK – means that Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, and Moeen Ali will all return to the squad after spending time at home during the Tests. This means that England has its best squad available for this one, something that is important in the eyes of Morgan given that England is looking to prepare for the T20I World Cup in India later this year.
Virat Kohli – the captain if India – is the only cricketer seemingly able to adapt to all formats of the game and he currently averages over 50 per innings in all three types of the game. He and Rohit Sharma rank at No. 1 and No. 3 in terms of run consistency worldwide and they will both be important players here. India is an outstanding T20I team, but it feels like their price is getting some rub from their performances in the Tests. Take a flier on England to win with BetXChange here.