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Teams set for series decider on batting beauty

Wisden India logo Wisden India 01-02-2017

It has been a long arduous tour for England, and after a 4-0 drubbing in the Tests and a 2-1 loss in the One-Day International series that followed their 20-day Christmas and New Year break, it has come down to the third and final Twenty20 International in Bangalore on Wednesday (February 1) where the visiting side will get a chance to finish with a smile.

Eoin Morgan’s men won the first of the three T20Is convincingly and had the chance to take an unassailable lead in Nagpur on Sunday, but a clinical performance from the Indian bowlers helped the hosts quash those hopes and level the series in thrilling fashion.

Despite the big boundaries and the sluggish nature of the track at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, England would have fancied their chances after restricting India to just 147 for 7. But as it turned out, the much-talked-about back-of-length slower delivery proved to be England’s nemesis, and Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah stuck to the script under pressure to squeeze out a five-run win.

But the Chinnaswamy Stadium offers very different playing conditions from those in Kanpur and Nagpur. The boundaries are much shorter, and the pitch is expected to suit the batsmen much more than it did in the first two encounters. The dew, which made gripping the ball extremely hard for the bowlers and the fielders in the evenings, is also not expected to have as much of an impact here. The new Rs 4.25 crore-drainage system at the venue promises to negate the dew factor completely, which should reduce the significance of winning the toss and batting first.

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“It (what length to persistently bowl at) depends on the wicket,” said Bumrah, who denied England victory despite them needing just eight runs off the last over in Nagpur. “As you saw in the previous match, where we were playing on a bigger ground and the wicket was on the slower side. So over there, the back-of-length and slower deliveries became key. But when we play in a smaller ground, the back-of-length deliveries and slower ones have a higher chance of going for runs. So we cannot go in with a general idea for all venues.”

Despite going into this match high on confidence after clinching the last match from the jaws of defeat, India would be well aware of England’s big-hitting abilities. The likes of Jason Roy and Sam Billings at the top of the order, followed by Joe Root and Morgan, who provide the solidity in the batting unit, are good enough to set a platform for Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali to provide the late firepower.

India would hope for Nehra to provide early breakthroughs, like he did in the second T20I, and allow Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and the spinners to attack in the middle overs.

There was only one change made to the Indian playing XI in the second T20I, with the more experienced Amit Mishra coming in for Parveez Rasool, and it is unlikely that the Indian thinktank would tinker with that much, given that Mishra (1 for 25 in 4 overs) was the second most economical bowler for his side after Bumrah, who earned the Man of the Match award for his efforts.

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Yuzvendra Chahal, having admitted that he was nervous ahead of the series, would be at ease given his association with the venue – he represents the Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

But more than their bowlers, India will be concerned about their batsmen, who haven’t been able to bring their excellent 50-over form into the T20Is yet. Virat Kohli, who has otherwise been in stellar touch, missed out on both occasions, as did Yuvraj Singh, who made a career-best 150 in the second ODI, but only managed 12 and 4 in the two T20Is.

But if KL Rahul, who hit a 47-ball 71 to rescue India in the second match, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey can chip in along with Kohli and Yuvraj, the hosts won’t need to worry about getting a big score, either batting first or chasing one down.

England’s bowlers, led by the pace attack of Tymal Mills, Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes will look to continue the good work, with help from spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, who has been at his best in the spin-friendly conditions.

While Rahul and Pandey are local boys, who probably know the venue better than anyone else, Chahal can also expect a lot of support because of his association with the local IPL side. Kohli of course, owns every stadium he visits in India. With a capacity crowd of 40,000 assured to gather for the contest, it’s expected to be a cracker of a match, befitting a finale.


India (likely): KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra. 

England (from): Sam Billings, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler (wk), Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Chris Jordan, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, David Willey.

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