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1st T20I: India, England lock horns with an eye on upcoming T20 WC

Thursday, 11 March 2021 (19:46 IST)
Ahmedabad: After playing a momentous Test series, India and England will face each other in the first T20I in a five-match series, while keeping an eye on upcoming T20 World Cup, here at Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.

A series win for either team will be a boost for their confidence ahead of this year’s ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in India. They will both be considered among the frontrunners for the trophy when the tournament commences.

Victory for England will show them they have the right stuff to win in India. Similarly, victory for India will reaffirm to Virat Kohli’s team they can beat the very best.

The series between two big teams will be short of star power.

In Dawid Malan, England have the top-ranked T20I batsman in the world, while captain Eoin Morgan sits 10th.

In reply, India have third-placed KL Rahul and sixth-placed Kohli. Throw in the likes of Rohit Sharma, Ben Stokes, Rishabh Pant, Jos Buttler and Hardik Pandya, and the series should not be short of fireworks with the bat.

However, it doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy series for the batters, with bowlers of the calibre of Adil Rashid - fifth on the ICC’s T20I bowling rankings - Jofra Archer, Yuzvendra Chahal, and the returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar all involved.

England’s most recent T20I series defeat was actually against India. That was in 2018. They have lost their past two bilateral T20I series against India, with their last series victory against them coming in 2014.

The 2018 encounter in England was split 2-1 with Rohit named Player of the Series for his 137 runs at 68.50. One hundred of those runs came in the series decider at Bristol. Another century at the start of the campaign from Rahul had earlier given India the lead before England bounced back to win the second match.

Meanwhile, eyes also will be on Virat Kohli, who is on track to become the first men’s player to ever score 3000 T20I runs this series. He currently has 2928 to his name and it’d be a surprise if he did not fly past the 3000-mark against England.

India have only played three T20Is in the past 12 months, but with a home T20 World Cup around the corner, they’ll be looking to build up a head of steam. Expect the India captain to lead by example with the bat.

On the other hand, English batsman Dawid Malan sits atop the ICC T20I men’s batting rankings for a reason. He has scored more runs than anyone in the world in the format in the past 12 months, and he has been both reliable and aggressive. His 386 runs in that time have come at an average of 55.14 and strike rate of 144.56. 

He averaged 86.50 in England’s last T20I series, passing 50 in two of his free innings, with a high score of 99*. (UNI)

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