On Sunday there will be a T20I in Malahide and the competition will have different meanings for the two teams participating in it.
For an Indian squad that is missing a number of regulars, this is another step towards sorting out their combination for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. They will, in Hardik Pandya, have their… seventh captain in all sizes
a substitute coach since early 2021 and at VVS Laxman.
They’ve gone through their last streak without making a single change, but there’s now a chance they’ll hand out a new cap or two. Umran Malik, Arshdeep Singh and Rahul Tripathi have excited many viewers during the recently concluded IPL season. Will one or more of them – as Rohit Sharma did a little over 15 years ago – embark on a fulfilling international career on Ireland’s shores?
Ireland will also be eyeing the T20 World Cup, but this match in India also offers a much-anticipated opportunity to test itself against the major opposition.
Since last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, Ireland has not played a single T20I against a full member team. They have played quite a few Associate oppositions in this period
, but their record wasn’t hugely encouraging. After being knocked out of contention for the Super 12 stage of last year’s World Cup due to a loss to Namibia, Ireland went to Lauderhill and suffered a shocking defeat to the US. On either side of those setbacks, they also lost five consecutive T20Is against the UAE.
Ireland will hope they can do a lot better in the coming weeks, but it will be quite a challenge as their drought of full-fledged matches is about to give way to something of a celebration. After India, they will face New Zealand, South Africa and Afghanistan in the course of this home season.
Ireland LWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
It was widely believed that he was unlucky to go unsold at the IPL 2022 auction, but it’s possible teams ignored him as he doesn’t have a particularly good T20I record against top teams. It’s not entirely his fault; in a career dating back to 2009, he has played just 16 games against Australia, England, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies (and no games at all against New Zealand). In those 16 games he is alone once reached 20
— when he scored a match-winning 47-ball 95 against the West Indies in January 2020. He’ll want to show he can mix it up with the best opponents, and to do that, he’ll need to topple a recent streak of poor form: his last five innings, all for the Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast, have seen him score from 0, 0, 0, 2 and 17.
Much talk leading up to the series was about the changes India could make, but there’s one incumbent who hopes it can make a significant impact before the regulars return. While Ishan Kishan finished the recent series against South Africa as the highest finisher, his opening partner Ruturaj Gaikwad endured a tough time on either side of a solid half-century in the third game, with his other four innings giving him scores of 23, 1, 5 and 10. While Kishan has cemented his place in a hypothetical full-strength India T20I squad, Gaikwad needs to do more to remain among the immediate backup options.
Ireland (probably): 1 Paul Stirling, 2 Andy Balbirnie (capt), 3 Gareth Delany, 4 Curtis Campher, 5 Harry Tector, 6 Lorcan Tucker (wk), 7 George Dockrell, 8 Andy McBrine, 9 Mark Adair, 10 Craig Young, 11 Jos Klein.
Will India get a debutant on Sunday? “We want to give people opportunities, but also play our best XI,” was Hardik’s answer to that question in his pre-match press conference. Your guess is therefore just as good as ours.
India (probably): 1 Ishan Kishan, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Deepak Hooda, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
There are three totals of 180 plus first innings in the last five T20Is
in Malahide, and the batting team first passed 200 in each of its three matches before, including Scotland who put up a surreal 252 for 3 against the Netherlands on the back of George Munsey’s 127 off 56 balls in September 2019.
Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie expected good batting conditions. “It’s usually pretty good and it’s pretty true and you get a little bang for your buck so I don’t really expect too much of a difference.”
The kind of talent that is present in the Indian team, the kind of character they have shown, the way they have played shows the banking power that India has. In the unlikely event that something happens to someone, there is always a backup. There is nothing better for the Indian team than to have all these options. Until now people fighting for a place knocked on the door – as we say in India – but now they are breaking down the door.
India stand-in captain Hardik Pandya is satisfied with the way things are going
“I don’t know if that [spin] will be the greatest weapon. I hope not, because she [India] have some great spinners on their team. [Yuzvendra] Chahal has been very successful for India and had a really good IPL campaign”
Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie hopes that conditions in Malahide won’t be too conducive to spinning.