India-England blockbuster begins

Match details

Old Trafford, Manchester
July 3, Tuesday; 22:00 IST
Live on SPN, streaming on Sony Liv

The main picture

You have genuine reasons to be excited about India’s limited-overs series against England. The two teams are really well-matched, 13 English players played in the 11th edition of IPL (and will have an inside knowledge of their Indian counterparts) and the quality of cricket is likely to be high regardless of whether bat dominates the ball or vice versa.

England are a team high on confidence and have the right ingredients to challenge a really strong Indian side. The two teams boast dynamic opening batsmen, a solid middle order, great finishers, and decent bowling attacks. (Had India not lost Jasprit Bumrah to a finger injury, their bowling attack will have been better than England’s, even though Siddarth Kaul and Umesh Yadav are capable of filling the void.) Therefore, the visiting India and the English have barely anything separating them at least at the start of the three-T20I series.

Also, the T20I series will probably only be a teaser to the ODI series that follows and which should set the pulses racing. Albeit this is early to say, the two teams will have sussed each other out by the time the first ODI comes around—the squads for the ODI and T20I series are similar—and thereby will provide a more absorbing contest. Saying which does not mean the one-time World T20 champions will go easy on the series starting tomorrow, no, and in fact, the intensity of this T20I series is likely to be higher than most others.

Pitch conditions and weather forecast

The last time the Old Trafford in Manchester hosted a T20I was in September 2016, but the pitch for the most recent fixture played here, the fifth ODI between England and Australia on June 24, was sluggish and stroke-making was consequently difficult. Historically, too, this venue hasn’t been one for high scores. You can expect the spinners from both teams to play a big role on this pitch tomorrow, while the batsmen will look to be aggressive at the start, when the ball is hard and comes onto the bat better. The sluggish nature of the pitch also means the captain who wins the toss is likely to want to bat first.

The forecast for Tuesday says the weather should be clear with a temperature of 14 degree Celsius in the evening.

India vs England past T20I record

The English have the better head to head record (6-5) in T20Is against India, who haven’t won a T20I in England in the three matches they have played to date.

India vs England probable playing XI

England are unlikely to make any changes from their recent win over Australia. Jos Buttler will open the innings, while Bairstow will bat in the middle order, unlike in the ODIs. Alex Hales, with Ben Stokes still out, is likely to find a place in the XI.

Likely England XI for first T20I: 1 Eoin Morgan (c), 2 Jason Roy, 3 Jos Buttler, 4 Joe Root, 5 Alex Hales, 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 David Willey, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Adil Rashid

The Indian team management, on the other hand, have at least a couple of important selection calls to make. Primary of which is who among Suresh Raina or Lokesh Rahul plays or if both of them can be accommodated considering that Manish Pandey continues to struggle for rhythm batting in the middle or lower middle order.

With Jasprit Bumrah out, who among Siddarth Kaul and Umesh Yadav will get the nod to partner Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was rested for the second T20I against Ireland? If the team management are looking for versatility, then Kaul will pip Umesh to the spot, but if early wickets are the priority, then Umesh may well be chosen ahead of Kaul. However, with India not having a reliable sixth bowling option and Bumrah absent, which makes death bowling a cause for concern, Kaul’s variations and their suitability for the pitch on offer may make him a no-brainer option.

MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan, who were among those rested for the final Ireland T20I, should return to the playing XI. Rohit Sharma is likely to be restored to his usual position at the top of the order.

Possible India playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Lokesh Rahul, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Siddarth Kaul, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Kuldeep Yadav

Match prediction

With the Old Trafford pitch potentially being sluggish again, the toss might hold the key. Expect the spinners to have a major say. With the pitch conditions as they are and the composition of the teams being the way it is, the team who put in a complete performance, or at least close to one, are likely to emerge victorious.

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