India and England will play five matches starting Friday, trying to figure out their best combinations and strategies ahead of the showdown in October
The shortest format of the game in international cricket is now 17 years old. Smarter, more mature, advanced, the T20 cricket has gone through many rebirths in its short lifetime, however, what hasn't changed is the excitement around the same. The three-three and a half-hour game gives less time to think and encourages more time to act and the teams, captains and the players, in general, have evolved with the format realising the same.
The popularity of the game has increased with various T20 leagues around the world and still remains an intriguing format at the highest level. While many former and current cricketers have advocated that T20 cricket should only be played at the franchise level. However, many have said that the T20 World cup has given much-needed context and relevance to the bilateral series, like the Cricket World Cup.
Thus, after a long gap of five years, the pinnacle tournament of the format will be back later this year and every series in the lead-up to it feels like a dress rehearsal for the same, where the teams are trying out different players at various positions, trying the combinations that can help them go for the jugular.
Unsurprisingly enough, the captains of the best two teams in the world have backed their opponents as the team to beat. While Virat Kohli said, England will be favourites, Eoin Morgan said, India will be favourites especially given they are playing at home.
Now, the two top sides will be up against each other in a five-match dress rehearsal given the World Cup takes place in India only. Even though the two sides are neck and neck in the rankings and the strengths are concerned, there are concerns for the home side, especially after what the pre-match press conference of the captain suggested.
With skipper confirming that Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will be their first-choice openers in T20Is, the left-handed batsman's future in the shortest format has received a huge blow. As for now, he will continue to open in the ODIs, but with him featuring only in the limited-overs for his country, Dhawan really has to break the door down to put his hand up in this format.
Even though he had a sensational IPL to show for, KL's form and Rohit's reliability have been chosen over his flamboyance. While skipper mentioned that he will be the third opener, but it seems that the team might have slowly moved on from him.
With the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, India have now changed their approach to go with the T20 specialists rather than tried and tested players in the ODIs. Skipper that they want to be freer than before as far as their batting lineup is concerned and change their approach in this format of the game, that's why they have chosen a certain kind of players.
While five-six games may not be enough for them to test all of them, but it will give them a rough idea on who can provide them the same.
With the addition of Rahul Tewatia in the squad, India has suggested that they might be doing away with pure spinners, especially in this format. The depth in the batting line-up is an enticing option given that they now have truckloads of them. Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja (when he is fit) and now Tewatia, two left-arm orthodox, one leg-spinner, and an off-spinner and all of them, who are handy with the bat.
That means, even though Yuzvendra Chahal is the first-choice spinner in the side, he might be made to sit out for a couple of games for India to try the combination.
England, only the other hand, have a fairly settled side, with a couple of places still in question and given both the series and the upcoming World Cup take place in India, it will give them enough time and opportunity for hit and trial.