Litmus test awaits India in England T20Is

Skipper Rohit Sharma, who missed the rescheduled fifth Test in Birmingham after contracting COVID-19, will feature in the T20I series opener.
Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma

SOUTHAMPTON: Experimentation will go out of the window as India will get down to finalising its best eleven for the World Cup during the three-match T20I series against an ultra-aggressive England, which begins here on Thursday.

Skipper Rohit Sharma, who missed the rescheduled fifth Test in Birmingham after contracting COVID-19, will feature in the T20I series opener. Former captain Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant will join the T20I squad from the second match onwards.

Their absence could give fringe players like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson one more match to make a statement, though they seem to have fallen in the pecking order. A niggle meant that Ruturaj could not open alongside Ishan Kishan in the two matches in Ireland and with Rohit back, his chances of making it to the eleven are minimal.

Kishan has done reasonably well in the opportunities he has got and will look to strengthen his position in the squad as a reserve opener. With Kohli expected to be back at No.3 from the second match, Deepak Hooda will aim for another influential performance to keep himself in the mix. With a century and 47 not out against Ireland, Hooda has made it tougher for the team management to drop him from the eleven.

Suryakumar Yadav, who made a return from injury against Ireland, could not get going in the two matches and will back himself to come good. In the bowling department, pacer Umran Malik will be brimming with confidence after defending 17 runs in the last over of the high-scoring second T20I against Ireland. However, he remains a work in progress and needs to improve his accuracy.

Seasoned pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel, who were stunned by Ireland in the second fixture, will have to be at their best. For England, the series marks the beginning of the Jos Buttler era following the retirement of Eoin Morgan.

Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, star of the fifth Test, have been rested. However, there is enough firepower to rattle the opposition.

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