India vs England T20Is Preview: India searches for the best XI for the World Cup

Experimentation will go out the window as India will finalize its best eleven for the World Cup in the three-match T20 series against an ultra-aggressive England, which starts here on Thursday. Skipper Rohit Sharma, who missed the fifth Test in Birmingham after contracting COVID-19, will travel to the port city on Wednesday and is expected to be featured in the series opener. Test players including Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant will join the T20 team from game two onwards.

Their absence would give fringe players like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson one more game to make a statement, although they appear to have fallen down the pecking order on India’s list of probabilities for the World Cup in Australia.

A glitch meant that Gaikwad couldn’t open next to Ishan Kishan in the two games in Ireland and when Rohit is back he will have to warm up the bench again. Kishan has done quite well in the opportunities presented to him and he will be looking to cement his position in the team as reserve opener with a big punch against mighty England.

With Kohli expected to be back at number three from game two, Deepak Hooda will be aiming for another match-winning attempt to keep himself in the mix.

With a century and 47 not out against Ireland, Hooda has certainly made it harder for team management to keep him out of the eleven.

The uncapped duo of Rahul Tripathi and Arshdeep Singh have not been included for the second and third T20 and are unlikely to take a look on Thursday. Suryakumar Yadav, who made a comeback from injury against Ireland, was unable to get going in the Malahide games and will support himself to return to his innovative best. He and Hooda were one of the points in the warm-up against Derbyshire last week.

In the bowling department, pacemaker Umran Malik will be confident after defending 17 runs in the last over of a high scoring second T20 against Ireland. However, it remains a work in progress and needs to improve its accuracy.

The pacesetters, including the seasoned Bhuvneshwar Kumar and wily Harshal Patel, were stunned by the Irish attack and against a tougher opponent they will have to be at their best.

Yuzvendra Chahal is expected to replace Ravi Bishnoi in the playing eleven.

India has about 15 T20 matches to play for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October – three against England in the current series, five against the West Indies (29 July – 7 August), about 5 in Asia Cup (August-September) and three against Australia (September).

The England series marks the start of the process of identifying the best XI for the marquee event.

For England, the series marks the beginning of the Jos Buttler era following the retirement of Eoin Morgan.

Ben Stokes and star of the fifth Test against India, Jonny Bairstow, have been given a rest from the series. However, there is enough firepower in the English battle to rattle the opposition.

Both Buttler and Liam Livingstone showed devastating form in the IPL and would like to build on that.

Squad: England: 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.

India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaekwad, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (World Cup), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik.

Start game at 10:30 PM.

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