Ahead of the five-match T20I series between India and England, here are the five visiting players you should keep an eye on.
With a new format fast approaching, England will aim to start afresh when they take on India in the five-match T20I series, which will begin with the opening clash in Ahmedabad on 12 March.
Virat Kohli’s men bounced back from a crushing defeat in the opening match of the Test series against England, much like they did in Australia, and booked a ticket to the finale of the ICC World Test Championship. There were plenty of pitch debates in the Test series but that discussion is unlikely to continue as we shift focus towards the limited-overs leg of the series. India, regardless, will be pumped up, especially since this will be their first limited overs assignment at home after the long break due to COVID-19.
England, meanwhile, have played two T20I series post the COVID-19 enforced break – both at home – against Australia and Pakistan. While they beat Australia 2-1, their three-match series against Pakistan was levelled at 1-1. Playing in India, however, is a different ball game altogether.
England are the No 1 ranked T20I side in the world, while the Men in Blue occupy the third spot. But the momentum is with India heading into the series.
Ahead of the T20I series, we take a look at the England players to watch out for:
Currently the top-ranked T20I batsman in the world, Dawid Malan is integral to England’s scheme of things in the game’s shortest format. In a short T20I career spanning 19 matches, the southpaw already has a century (the fastest in English history) and nine fifties to his name.
Averaging a staggering 53.43, Malan has a career strike of 149.47, making him a complete T20I batsman. Rather than a wild slogger, Malan is a gifted timer of the cricket ball. He has often bailed England out of precarious positions and is known for playing according to the need of the situation.
The 33-year-old emerged as the leading run-getter in England’s last T20I series (against England) with 129 runs from three matches. He also fared well in the three T20Is against Pakistan, in which he averaged 42.
Malan hasn’t had a taste of subcontinent conditions in his T20I career thus far. While the lack of experience could work in India’s favour, Malan will be aiming to continue his purple patch and establish himself as a valuable proposition away from home.
Jos Buttler, who has the ability to single-handedly take the game away from the opposition, was England’s second highest run-getter in their last T20I series (against Australia in 2020). He amassed 121 runs from two games, while maintaining an impressive strike rate of 145.78.
In view of England’s rest-and-rotate policy, Buttler was rested for the final three Tests against India. The wicketkeeper-batsman will be fully fresh as he returns to action for the five T20Is against India.
The hard-hitting right-hander averages 42.33 from the 12 T20Is that he has played in the country. Besides, his exploits in the IPL are well known.
As one of the more experienced batsmen in Indian conditions in the current squad, the visitors will bank on him to lead by example and get them off to flying starts.
A change of format means that limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan will be back and lead a side with plenty of T20I specialists.
While the left-hander failed to make any sort of impact in the T20I series against Australia at home, he averaged 30 in England’s previous T20I series against Pakistan, while maintaining a mind-boggling strike rate of 187.50.
Motivated by their Test series win, India will be the firm favourites heading into the limited-overs leg of the series and it will be interesting to see how Morgan marshals his troops.
The big-hitting southpaw has a fairly decent T20I record in India which includes a century, two fifties and an average of 25.33.
Morgan last played a T20I in December 2020 and as a batsman, he will be expected to get back in the groove right from the word go.
Two days after hammering an 18-ball 43 against India in the second innings of the second Test, in a knock that also included three consecutive sixes off Axar Patel, Moeen Ali sparked a bidding war in the IPL 2021 auctions. He was eventually grabbed by Chennai Super Kings for Rs 7 crore.
The all-rounder is a highly rated cricketer in T20Is, especially in franchise tournaments, and will be one of the key personnel for England in the upcoming T20I series.
Ali is someone who can bat both up and down the order as per the need of the situation. While he possesses the ability to score at a brisk pace, he is a handy off-spinner and will add balance to the visitors’ line up.
The 33-year-old returned home after the second Test due to England’s rotation policy so he’ll be fresh and raring to go.
The visitors will want him to live up to his potential, however, seeing as he did not impress with the bat or ball in the T20I series against Australia and Pakistan in 2020.
These games will serve as valuable match practice ahead of the IPL and the all-rounder would be looking to give the CSK fans something to cheer about ahead of the league’s scheduled start in April.
Jofra Archer extracted good bounce, carry, and kept the Indian batsmen in check, even on the spinner-friendly Indian tracks during the recently concluded Test series. The speedster only played two Tests and missed out on the final Test due to an elbow problem.
With James Anderson and Stuart Broad no longer playing limited-overs cricket, it is Archer who spearheads the team’s pace attack, but England coach Chris Silverwood did recently say that Archer's involvement could be doubtful for the T20I series.
While England have sufficient options in the seam department – Mark Wood, the Curran Brothers (Sam and Tom) and Ben Stokes – Archer certainly stands out as the X factor.
If he does get a go, even in a few matches, the Barbados-born pacer will definitely be one to watch out for.
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