After a disappointing seven-wicket defeat in the fifth rescheduled Test from 2021 at Edgbaston, India officially begin the tour of England for 2022 with a three match Twenty20 International series set to begin on Thursday with a renewed focus on white-ball cricket. With the T20 World Cup coming up later this year, plans and strategies will need to be formed as the clock ticks down.
The BCCI had announced a rather comprehensive squad for the T20Is that not only helps test and filter out players from the large pool that India boast of but also focus on workload management of Team India members who play all three formats. Right now, that seems to be a priority for the Rahul Dravid-Rohit Sharma duo.
While Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Virat Kohli are rested in the first T20I, Rohit will be back as captain after missing the Edgbaston Test with Covid-19. The Indians – led by Hardik Pandya and completely different unit than the one featured in Tests – are coming off a 2-0 series win against Ireland. They played a couple of practice games against Derbyshire and Northamptonshire too. Now, hopefully, we will head to a position of some clarity about their roles in the team and an intention to cement their spot ahead of the all-important tournament in Australia.
After testing negative, Rohit Sharma came up to speed with whatever’s been happening with the teams on-ground as he stepped back into the leader’s shoes. In the press conference ahead of the series, he said, “It was very hard to watch from the sidelines, it’s never an easy situation when you miss games, especially an important game like that, where the series was on the line for us. Today is the first day I joined the team.”
“They’ve been traveling to Ireland; they played a couple of practice games as well. I was just trying to understand what sort of mindset the boys are in, how the preparation has been for each individual. It was just about catching up on things I wasn’t a part of. Obviously, it’s always nice to understand what is happening within the team.”
New English era
While it is still early days into Dravid’s coaching, it is all brand new for England, who have are stepping in with a new captain in Jos Buttler after Eoin Morgan’s retirement and a new white-ball coach Matthew Mott. It will be up to them to further revolutionise Morgan’s ways and take the team forward even in the shortest format at the game.
They will step into the series without Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. The highlight for this team is the return of improved and fully-fit Sam Curran, apart from in-form Buttler, of course. Lancashire’s 34-year-old Richard Gleeson is expected to bolster the bowling line-up after some stellar performances in the T20 Blast. With several new additions in the squad, their plans for the World Cup also seem to be on track.
In the case of India too, there is a clear intention to expose young blood to alien conditions and match situations and see who thrives. Deepak Hooda came out with flying colours in Ireland, while Sanju Samson continued to make a case for himself. Additionally, Hardik Pandya shone as a leader and all-rounder yet again while the raw Umran Malik was acquainted with the task of defending a total against a high-scoring team.
“Of course, we are definitely keeping one eye on the World Cup. I wouldn’t say it’s preparation. Every game for India matters to us. We want to come here and try and tick every box we have and make sure we get the job done, as simple as that,” said Rohit.
“Of course, there are a lot of younger players who are getting the opportunity to represent the country through their performances of their state teams, IPL teams. They deserve their opportunity.”
He added, “England is going to be a very challenging team for us, I’m pretty sure these boys have been here for a while. They went to Ireland; they played a couple of practice games here. Now we look forward to this T20 series and thereafter the ODI series as well.”
For Buttler, the new challenge in white-ball cricket means a phase in his career where he puts Test cricket behind.
“Certainly being captain of the white-ball team is my number one priority. I’m very focused and really excited for the challenge that lies ahead,” Buttler was quoted as saying by AFP.
“I think it’s going to be a really big challenge and one that needs my full-time attention. Talking about the Test stuff might be a question that never has to be answered unless someone wants to pick me for the team, which hasn’t been the case.
“It’s quite obvious at the minute I was left out on merit and rightfully so. I had a poor Ashes series and I’m not part of the team at the moment. The team is playing fantastically well, so it doesn’t look like a team that needs people.”
India’s squad for 1st T20I: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaekwad, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik
India’s squad for 2nd and 3rd T20I: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik
England squad: Jos Buttler (Captain), Moeen Ali, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Richard Gleeson, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Matthew Parkinson, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Reece Topley and David Willey.
1st T20I England vs India, at The Rose Bowl, Southampton - Thursday, July 7, 10:30 PM IST
2nd T20I England vs India, at Edgbaston, Birmingham - Saturday, July 9, 7:00 PM IST
3rd T20I England vs India, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham - Thursday, July 10, 7:00 PM IST
With quote inputs from AFP and ESPNCricinfo