Trials will go out the window as India start to finish their top 11 World Cup matches during the three-game T20 series against very aggressive England, starting here on Thursday. Skipper Rohit Sharma, who missed his fifth test in Birmingham after contracting COVID-19, will travel to the port city on Wednesday and is expected to appear in the opening series. Test players including Virat Kohli, Jaspreet Pomrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant will join the T20 squad from match two onwards.
Their absence would give important players such as Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson another match to make a statement even though they appear to have fallen off the rankings in India’s potential World Cup list in Australia. The uproar meant that Gaikwad would not be able to open alongside Ishan Kishan in the two matches in Ireland, and if Rohit returned, he would have to warm up the bench again.
Kishan has done reasonably well in his chances and will be looking to cement his position in the team as a reserve with a powerful blow against mighty England. With Kohli expected to return to third place from match two, Deepak Hooda will be aiming for another match-winning attempt to keep himself in the mix. With a century and 47 not coming out against Ireland, Hooda certainly made it more difficult for the team management to put him off the eleven.
The uncovered duo of Rahul Tripathi and Arshdeep Singh were not included in the second and third T20 and are unlikely to be seen on Thursday. Suryakumar Yadav, who returned from injury against Ireland, has not been able to play in Malahide and will support himself to return to his innovative best level. He and Hoda were among the races in the warm-up against Derbyshire last week.
In the bowling department, Imran Malik will be full of confidence after defending 17 bowls in the last round of a high-score T20 second against Ireland. However, it is still a work in progress and its accuracy needs to be improved. Pacers including veteran Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Wily Harshal Patel were stunned by the Irish attack, and in the face of tougher opposition, they should be at their best. Yozvendra Chahal is expected to replace Ravi Bishnoi in the eleventh play.
India has about 15 T20 matches to play before the T20 World Cup in Australia in October – three matches against England in the current series, five matches against West Indies (29 July – 7 August), around 5 matches in the AFC Asian Cup (August – September) and Three vs Australia (September).
The England Series will mark the beginning of the process of determining the best eleven for the Tent Event. For England, the series marks the beginning of the Joss Butler era after the retirement of Ewen Morgan. Ben Stokes and the star of the fifth Test against India, Jonny Bairstow, have been relieved of the series. However, there is enough firepower in England battling to make a fuss in the opposition. Buttler and Liam Livingstone have both shown devastating form in the IPL and will look to build on that.
England: Joss Butler (captain), Muin Ali, Harry Brooke, Sam Curran, Richard Gleeson, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingston, David Malan, Timal Mills, Matthew Parkinson, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Rhys Tubley and David Wylie.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Ishaan Kishan, Roturaj Gaekwad, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (week), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yozvendra Chahal, Akuvar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi Harshal Patel, Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Imran Malik.
The match starts at 10:30 pm.