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The ideal test for both sides
Much has been made of England’s rotation policy for this tour of India, resting players during the Test series and welcoming them all back for the white-ball leg, but it sets up a fascinating few weeks of cricket.
For India, this is an opportunity to see how they stack up against the impressive tourists ahead of a World T20 on home soil in October.
The heat is on Virat Kohli’s men to go better than their semi-final defeats at each of the last two global ICC events, and a series victory in the T20 leg of England’s visit would convince them that they are on the right path.
Eoin Morgan’s side have won seven and drawn one of their last eight bilateral T20 series, most recently crushing South Africa 3-0 at the end of 2020.
With the nucleus of the side made up of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad, the tourists should be the side to beat later this year – but that perception could easily change if they have a tricky next fortnight.
Where does Virat Kohli fit for India?
Despite averaging over 50 in the format, there is a school of thought that believes India are being held back by Kohli’s lack of explosiveness.
The India captain has only passed 40 in two of his last nine T20 international innings, with scores of 9 (9) and 11 (9) in Australia recently highlighting the key issue – that he eats up too many balls before finding his rhythm.
For now, there is no denying Kohli’s rightful place in this line-up, but this series feels like a key one.
Mumbai Indians pair Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan are just two of the batsmen breathing down the neck of the current incumbents and Kohli, who had a quiet Test series, needs runs to avoid awkward questions being asked in the year of a major tournament.
How do England structure their batting order?
England’s comprehensive series win in South Africa last year answered some questions around the structure of their batting line-up, but such is the quality of their talent pool that there is still plenty to nail down.
Dawid Malan’s remarkable rise to prominence means that he will start this series as a No. 3, but – like Kohli – he is typically a slow starter, so must keep delivering long and big innings to justify his position.
With quality playing of spin likely to be crucial in this series and the World T20, Sam Billings will feel he has a shot at taking the place of Malan or opener Jason Roy, who hasn’t passed 20 in his last four England innings in this format.
Morgan himself looks to be well suited to the No. 6 slot, with his ability to hit sixes from ball one making him ideal for the ‘finisher’ role, but if another top order player like Liam Livingstone were to emerge then Buttler could still be shuffled down the order.
With Moeen Ali also in contention, there is still plenty to unpick.
The battle of the spinners
India’s spinners were just too good for England during the recent Test series, but things should be less one-sided during the white-ball leg.
Adil Rashid recovered from a shoulder injury to deliver arguably his best summer in an England shirt in 2020, taking eight wickets in the five T20s in which he bowled.
His battle with India’s key leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will be a fascinating sub-plot to this series.
Chahal took four wickets in India’s T20 series win in Australia in December and took a 6-fer the last time he bowled against England in this format at home.
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