After a thumping victory in the longest format, hosts India shift their focus on game’s shortest format as they gear up for yet another exciting series against England — the number one ranked T20I side in the world. While the hosts dominated the Test series, beating England in the T20s won’t be easy for the Virat Kohli-led side. With eyes on the T20 World Cup in India later this year, both teams have selected a strong squad for the five-match series which begins on March 12 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. While England have Dawid Malan — the number one ranked T20I batsman — up their ranks, India also boast of an explosive player in KL Rahul who is currently occupying the second spot in the T20I batsmen rankings.
Skipper Virat Kohli and opener Rohit Sharma are almost certain to start every game, there is a tough fight for places, at least in the top order. KL Rahul, who opened the batting for India in the last T20I series, is getting tough fight from Shikhar Dhawan for the opening slot.
The selectors have also included some fresh faces in the squad with the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tewatia earning their maiden T20I call-up, after impressing in the last year’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is expected to lead India’s spin-bowling attack. Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy, who missed out on the Australia tour with a late injury, is also back in the side. Axar Patel, one of the standout performers for India in the just-concluded Test series, has also been named in the squad as a like-for-like replacement for injured Ravindra Jadeja. Washington Sundar, Hardik Pandya and Rahul Tewatia are the three all-rounders in the side.
In the fast-bowling department, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is making a comeback after a long injury layoff, while T Natarajan has kept his place in the side after a successful tour Down Under, where he had become the first-ever Indian to make debuts in all three formats on the same tour. Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur are the remaining fast bowlers in the squad.
Eoin Morgan will take over the leadership duties from Test skipper Joe Root who is not part of their T20I side. While the visitors faced a lot of criticism for their rotation policy throughout the Test series, they have picked a formidable squad for the upcoming series.
Moeen Ali, who went back home after playing just one Test, is back with the squad. England will be riding on players like Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid, who didn’t feature in the Test series to make a difference in the series.
Apart from Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow none of the players named in the T20I squad were part of England’s playing XI for the fourth Test, which they lost by an innings and 25 runs.
However, with a change in outfit and leadership, the visitors would be hoping to have a turnaround in their fortune as well and win the series to avenge their defeat in the Test series. The hosts, on the other hand, would be hoping to carry on the same momentum and continue their winning run.
1st T20I: March 12
2nd T20I: March 14
3rd T20I: March 16
4th T20I: March 18
5th T20I: March 20
Venue: All matches to be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad — the biggest cricket stadium in the world.
All matches start at 7:00 pm IST
India’s T20I squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur.
England T20I Squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.
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