The world’s two top-ranked T20 International teams, India (No. 2) and England (No. 1) clash in the first match of the five-match T20I series here at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera on Friday.
The visiting Englishmen who lost the four-match Test series 3-1 are now looking to restore pride under skipper Eoin Morgan, who leads the white ball sides in the five T20Is and three ODIs after taking over from Test captain Joe Root.
The England players are expected to pose a tough challenge for Virat Kohli’s boys as their team comprises hard-hitting batsmen who are more adept at playing on flatter surfaces in limited overs games unlike in Test matches where the pitches demanded application against spinners.
As many as 13 of the 16 players in England’s T20I squad have prior experience of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with some of the top players like skipper Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer being an integral part of their respective IPL squads.
India, on the other hand, will see the return of wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant who was ignored for both the white ball series in Australia late last year. However, his performances in Test matches make him a strong contender for the Indian middle-order especially the No. 4 or No. 5 batting positions.
India’s opening batting will also see the return of Rohit Sharma, who will open either with Shikhar Dhawan or with K.L. Rahul. Rahul, who kept wickets in the last T20I series that India played in Australia, will give up the gloves to Pant even if he is picked in the playing eleven.
Both teams have won seven T20Is each in the 14 games they have played against each other.
The T20I series is the first of India’s preparatory series this year leading up to the World T20 that will be held in India in October-November.
India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), K.L. Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T. Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur.
England T20I squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.