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England went back to the drawing board after the first T20 against India and came back with some fresh plans. The result was a tightly fought victory and another intriguing match in what promises to be a brilliant series. India would have been disappointed with the result in this match but there is questioning their effort. Virat Kohli had promised that India would fight for every ball in every match and that was clearly on show.
The scene is now set for the decider to be played in front of another sold-out crowd. Which team will take the honors in the T20 leg of this series?
Eoin Morgan made one change in his side for the second T20 by dropping Moeen Ali and packing Jake Ball instead. It was a risky move because it shortened the famed England lineup and put more responsibility on the middle order.
It was also recognition of the fact that Indians play spin well and will attack Ali at all opportunities. Jake Ball did not fare too much better as he was one of the only bowlers to be targeted by the Indian batsmen. His economy rate of 11.00 stood out in stark contrast to the rest.
We think England will stick to the same lineup against India in Bristol but would actually like to see Ali back in place of Joe Root and bat up the order.
England’s bowling was very good in the second match. Willey got the ball to move early, Plunkett was very difficult to get away, and Adil Rashid did not give any freebies to the Indian batsmen. Chris Jordan went for a few runs early but came back strongly in the death overs with some pinpoint yorkers.
It was easy to why England has been doing so well in the limited overs contests because its bowlers had clear plans against each batsman and the execution was superb.
Chasing down a total of 150 was not expected to be a problem for England but they had to fight till the very end. Roy gave the team a brisk start but fell early as did Buttler. Morgan and Root could not get the scoreboard moving against the spinners and they fell cheaply as well.
It was ultimately Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow that played aggressively and took the game away from the Indians. Hales, in particular, was very severe on any loose deliveries. He was comfortable against the fast bowlers and chose his moments against the spinners as well. He will be tested by the spinners further in the series but definitely showed he had some plans to counter them in this match.
England will be aware that India managed to run them very close chasing a small total on a day where their spinners did not have much impact. That is an ominous sign because the going will get a lot tougher on surfaces that offer a tiny bit to the spinners.
JJ Roy, Jos Buttler, AD Hales, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, BA Stokes, David Willey, Chris Jordan, LE Plunkett, AU Rashid, Jake Ball.
Put into bat, India had an extremely poor start to its innings. Shikhar Dhawan was run out needlessly, Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul did not last long, and before long the overs were running out with not too many runs on the board.
Virat Kohli played a scratchy inning but managed to reach 47 and guide the team along. His inning was not the best we have seen him play but the time spent in the middle is definitely going to serve him well going further into the tournament.
Suresh Raina’s place in the team is somewhat contentious. He made 27 runs but did not look too assured getting them. He is also not being bowled and that will count against him. Krunal Pandya could be a worthy replacement for Raina at this juncture because he brings another quality spin option and the ability to score vital runs down the order.
If India does decide to go this way then Dhoni can bat up the order like he prefers to do nowadays.
India will be pleased to see Dhoni and Pandya get some lusty blows away in the end but the team definitely needs its top order to fire. England is a very good batting side and a par total is rarely going to be enough against them.
India needs to play with freedom from the get-go and ensure they don’t fall behind the run-rate.
India’s batsmen are still adjusting to life in England but their bowlers have done them proud already. After winning the first match for India, the bowlers nearly stepped up again in the second. Umesh Yadav picked up early wickets, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar kept things tight till his last over, Yuzvendra Chahal was much better in this game, and Hardik Pandya continued to impress as the fifth bowling option.
Kuldeep Yadav was expected to be the ace in India’s hand but he had an off day. Kuldeep struggled to adapt to the deeper stance that England’s batsmen were taking against him. He was too short for most of his spell and too full when he tried to compensate.
Credit must be given to the England batsmen for adjusting to the wrist spinners and attacking them but expect the spinners to come back strongly.
India has a lot to think about going into the final T20 of this series. Should Kohli continue to bat in the middle or move back to three? Does Suresh Raina fit into the scheme of things? Will the spinners be able to come up with new plans to counter England’s batsmen?
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, V Kohli, Lokesh Rahul, SK Raina, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Chahar, YS Chahal, Siddarth Kaul, Umesh Yadav.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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A sunny day with a few harmless clouds floating around has been predicted for match day in Bristol. The chance of rain is negligible and we should be in for an uninterrupted slugfest between the two sides. It will be very interesting to see the pitch for this encounter. England will want to see some grass on the surface to negate the spinners while India will be hoping for some turn on offer.
Traditionally, Bristol has been helpful to the spinners and the dry conditions prevailing might tilt the balance towards them again. The batsmen will still have a good time on this surface as the ball generally comes on nicely.
A score of 160 should be considered par.
Both India and England have given a good account of themselves in this series so far. The matches have been keenly contested and there do not appear to be any glaring weaknesses in either side. India, though, has the slightly better bowling side and we think that should be enough to get the job done.
Back India to win.