India in England – India takes on Derbyshire and Northamptonshire in warm-ups for England’s challenge

While one Indian men’s team plays against England at Edgbaston in the rescheduled fifth Test, another will be involved in two warm-up matches ahead of July’s T20I series against the same opponents, following their 2-0 series win against Ireland in Malahide.
For the England series, Rohit Sharma is back as India captain, with the first game starting on July 7 in the Ageas Bowl.
Fourteen of the 17-man squad that traveled to Ireland made their appearance in one of the two T20Is, with Rahul Tripathi, Venkatesh Iyer and Arshdeep Singh the three men to miss. Hardik Pandya led the team, while Deepak Hooda and Sanju Samson put in remarkable performances in the second T20I.

Their opponents this week are Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, two Midlands counties that have been above their weight in the Vitality Blast this season. Heading into the final rounds of play, they are third and fifth respectively in the nine-team North group, with the top four qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Derbyshire’s historic T20 record is bad: they have reached the knockout stages three times in 19 previous seasons and have only reached Finals Day once, in 2019 when they lost to eventual champions Essex in the semi-final. But they have been transformed this season since the arrival of Mickey Arthur as coach, and a win over Durham on Sunday would guarantee a place in the quarter-finals.
They have used a core of 13 players in the Blast this season, with Shan Masood, one of their overseas players, leading the front with 516 runs as captain, an average of 46.90 with a strike rate of 142.14. Wayne Madsen and Leus du Plooy, both local players despite their South African descent, have made a big contribution to the midfield.
With the ball, Scottish Mark Watt and leg pinner Mattie McKiernan were the keys in the middle overs, while Hayden Kerr – the Australian all-rounder who was a net bowler for Lucknow Super Giants at IPL 2022 – and tall sailor George Scrimshaw were prolific, if occasionally expensive.

Derbyshire has named three foreign players in its 16-man roster for Friday-evening’s game, with Hilton Cartwright, the Australian batter, arriving as cover for Masood, but only three are expected in their playing XI. Ticket sales were strong, with less than 1000 left on Thursday night.

“They are the benchmark of international cricket in virtually all formats,” Cartwright told Derbyshire’s YouTube channel. “If you can perform well against them, your game is good. It’s a real challenge to see how far you can test them.”

For Northants, the atmosphere around Sunday’s game will depend a lot on their result against Leicestershire on Friday night. If they lose, they will be eliminated, but if they win, they will rely on results elsewhere on Sunday to help them to the quarter-finals. They have a proud T20 history, winning the trophy in 2013 and 2016, but have struggled over the past five seasons.

Chris Lynn and James Neesham, their foreign players, were their main stars this year but are not expected to participate in Sunday’s game, which has sold out for the past week. Josh Cobb, their captain, has had an excellent bat and ball Blast season, while young players Saif Zaib, Ben Curran – the middle brother, between Tom and Sam – and left arm wrist spinner Freddie Heldreich have all shown glimpses of their talent to see.

Fixtures: July 1 – Derbyshire vs India, The Incora County Ground (7pm), July 3 – Northamptonshire vs India, Wantage Road (2:30pm)

Additional reporting: Nagraj Gollapudic

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