It was India’s first white-ball game in three months and the rustiness of some of the premier shorter format players like KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, and Yuzvendra Chahal’s showed in the first game in which the hosts were clinically outplayed.
One defeat is never the end of the story and no critic can rule this Indian team out of the series on the basis of a singular performance especially because of its zeal to fight.
However, as skipper Virat Kohli talks about players with X-factors doing the job, he would expect Rishabh Pant and Pandya to do a bit more with their explosive hitting, which should not be confined to one audacious reverse scoop (Pant off Jofra Archer) or a falling ramp shot (Pandya off Ben Stokes).
They are more than capable and will be expected to give a far better account of themselves, trying to play more shots square of the wicket like Shreyas Iyer did during his innings of 67 off 48 balls.
Both Pandya (19 off 21 balls) and Pant (21 off 23 balls) weren’t able to gauge the pace of the track as Archer and Mark Wood bowled fast and straight denying them any width for the cut shot. The extra bounce also didn’t allow them to drive on the up.
“The wicket didn’t allow you to hit the kind of shots you wanted to. Shreyas’ innings was an example of how you could use the depth of the crease, ride the bounce because there was variable bounce at times, and hit the areas square of the wicket which others failed to do.
Shreyas Iyer. (ANI Photo)
“It was just a below-par batting performance and England made us pay for it,” Kohli had summed it up aptly at the end of the match.
The captain’s acknowledgement of Iyer’s performance could well mean that the wait for Suryakumar Yadav might get a tad longer with only one middle-order slot available currently.
However, Kohli’s propensity to change his playing XI at the drop of a hat is well documented.
While giving his team’s oldest member, Shikhar Dhawan, a couple of matches is perfectly understandable but how long does he want to persist with the left-hander, who looked completely out of sorts during his 4 off 12 balls.
Rohit Sharma, as per Kohli, is rested for a couple of matches having played 6 consecutive Test matches along with 14 days of hard quarantine at the start of his Australian sojourn.
But Rohit’s presence is very necessary at the top of the order and even though no one is really talking about it, it’s been long since the Indian skipper has had an impactful T20 performance. He is too good a player to miss out.
The bowling department didn’t have enough runs on board to put up a fight but whether one of the three spinners can make way for a tearaway quick like Navdeep Saini remains to be seen.
Perhaps Yuzvendra Chahal could make way for Rahul Tewatia, who may not be as crafty a leg break bowler but certainly a decent one with good batting prowess.
Eoin Morgan, one among the more likeable international captains, has been provided a team that has its bases covered with 12 players plying their trade in the IPL.
Unless something really goes wrong, this England team is a contender to win the T20 World Cup trophy in October this year with way too many powerhouse performers.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Tewatia, Ishan Kishan (reserve wicketkeeper).
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Joss Buttler, Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley, Chris Jordan, Mark Wood, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Sam Billings, Jonny Bairstow, Jofra Archer.