Aiming to carry the momentum of the Test triumph forward in the white-ball format, Virat Kohli and Co. are up against a tough England side, which will be led by Eoin Morgan.
With an eye on the T20 World Cup — scheduled for later this year, the T20I series serves as a perfect platform for India to zero in on their final squad for the ICC’s marquee event slated for October.
With quite a few options with the bat, Team India looks secure in the batting department but it will be a test for the bowlers, old and new to make a mark in the series to try and book their ticket for the World Cup.
With the likes of Jasprit Bumrah (on leave) and Mohammed Shami (out with injury) missing, the series serves as a great opportunity for the youngsters to make a mark and impress the selectors.
Experienced war horse Bhuvneshwar Kumar will also mark his return to international cricket. It will be a great opportunity for the 31-year-old to prove his skills and fitness and seal his place in the shortest format again.
TimesofIndia.com here takes a look at the top five India bowlers to watch out for in the upcoming T20I series:
India’s joint highest wicket taker in the T20Is, Yuzvendra Chahal, will be leading the spin department when India lock horns with England in the series starting March 12.
Away from international cricket since the T20I series against Australia back in December 2020, Chahal will look to be the trump card for skipper Virat against a side that has been in top form in the shortest format.
One of the most experienced in the bowling line-up, Chahal (45 matches) will be up against a familiar foe. His best performances have come against the No.1 T20I side in the past.
In 6 matches played against England, Chahal so far has been the highest wicket taker from India and even his best bowling performance of 6 for 25 was registered against the Eoin Morgan-led team.
With an economy rate of 7.37 against England, Chahal has managed to keep the opposition batsmen in check and could once again be the go-to man for skipper Kohli in the series which will be played on turning tracks in Motera.
Chahal career T20I stats: M 45 | W 59 | BBI 6/25 | Econ 8.29
Chahal vs England in T20Is: M 6 | W 9 | BBI 6/25 | Econ 7.37
After a thigh muscle injury forced him out of IPL 2020 midway, pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar missed out on the big Australia tour and was also not part of the Test series against England. But a fit again Bhuvi is all set to take the field and make a mark as India get ready to face a tough English challenge.
With the experience that the 31-year-old has in the shortest format and the ability to perform at the start and at the death, Bhuvneshwar could be a definite starter in the series for skipper Kohli.
Although Bhuvneshwar has not played international cricket since December 2019, steady performances in recent list A cricket for Uttar Pradesh have seen Bhuvneshwar getting right back on track.
As far as playing against England goes, the pacer has only been part of 2 encounters vs the English where he has struggled for wickets and also given away quite a few runs.
Bhuvneshwar T20I career stats: M 43 | W 41 | BBI 5/24 | Econ 7.04
Bhuvneshwar vs England in T20Is: M 2 | W 1 | BBI 1/19 | Econ 8.34
Since suffering stress fractures in his back during the Asia Cup in 2019, Hardik Pandya — the bowler — has been on a tough road to recovery.
Apart from the four overs that he bowled against Australia in the ODIs last year, Hardik has been kept away from bowling duties.
But during the training sessions ahead of the T20I series, Hardik was seen bowling in full tilt with a tweaked action, indicating that normal services are set to resume for Hardik in the upcoming series.
Already devastating with the bat, if Hardik gets back to full bowling fitness it will provide skipper Virat with the luxury of an extra pacer against England and going forward.
When it comes to bowling against England, Hardik also has pretty decent numbers. His best figures of 4 for 38 are against England along with a good economy rate.
The 27-year-old’s bowling will be in focus and Hardik will definitely aim to give his best and start preparing himself for the T20 World Cup, where he will be one of India’s key players.
Hardik T20I career stats: M 43 | W 38 | BBI 4/38 | Econ 8.35
Hardik vs England in T20Is: M 6 | W 5 | BBI 4/38 | Econ 8.0
After a dream Test debut against England, Axar Patel will be on cloud nine when he steps onto the field against England in the T20I series.
The 27-year-old came in as a replacement for the injured Ravindra Jadeja.
Axar, so far, has been part of 11 T20Is for India but has not been a regular feature in the side. With Jadeja away, the series is the perfect opportunity for Axar to showcase his all-round exploits.
Given the red-hot form Axar currently is in, it is very likely that the local boy will share the spin responsibilities with Chahal in the series in Ahmedabad.
In the 11 T20I matches that Axar has played, he has had a decent outing with the ball, claiming 9 wickets at a neat economy of 6.79.
The English batsmen were all over the place against Axar in the Test series and the left-arm spinner will look to produce an encore in the white-ball format as well.
Axar career T20I stats: M 11 | W 9 | BBI 3/17 | Econ 6.79
Axar vs England in T20Is: Not yet played
The second Indian and the first pacer to take a T20I hat-trick, Deepak Chahar has impressed quite a few in the shortest format. A product of the IPL, Chahar has been one of the big finds for India in the shortest format.
With the ability to swing the new ball both ways, Chahar has troubled batsmen on most occasions during his 13-game T20I career so far. Although his death bowling is still an area to be worked upon, the 28-year-old will look to impress the selectors when he takes the field against a high-class English batting in the 5-match series.
Chahar managed only a single wicket in the last T20I series (3 matches) vs Australia, but has been a part of a few domestic games since then to try and get back in rhythm.
In the 13 T20Is that Chahar has played, he has taken 18 wickets at an economy rate of 7.56.
Deepak career T20I stats: M 13 | W 18 | BBI 6/7 | Econ 7.56
Deepak vs England in T20Is: M 1 | W 1 | BBI 1/43 | Econ 10.75
Also watch out for:
Rahul Tewatia (T20I debut) & Rahul Chahar (1T20I)
After his heroics in IPL 2020, all-rounder Rahul Tewatia earned a maiden T20I call-up for the series against England. Currently with the team in Ahmedabad, Rahul still faces a challenge when it comes to being part of the XI, as the 27-year-old has to still pass a fitness test.
The same issue of fitness is also being faced by mystery off spinner Varun Chakravarthy. The 29-year-old has failed both his fitness tests and is likely to be replaced by leg-spinner Rahul Chahar in the squad. Chahar so far has played just one T20I. That was against the West Indies in 2019, where he took 1/27.
Earlier, Varun was also named in the India T20I squad for the Australia tour but was dropped from the squad because he wasn’t full fit.