Indians look to bounce back

Cricket Second T20I: Having lost the Kanpur opener, Kohli's men need to win to stay in the series

Indians look to bounce back

Seldom do T20 matches follow a smooth course. Momentum shifts in the blink of an eye, strategies shatter and get replaced, emotions intensify and quickly forgotten.

The rapid pace of the format doesn’t encourage brooding, it demands adaptability. India, battling for survival for the first time in the series, need to pick things up and work around the conditions offered. Time and opportunities are both against them, not to forget an invigorated England team.

England captain Eoin Morgan has used his experience of the Indian Premier League in the series, and modelled his batting in line with the flatter Indian pitches. He has spurred the revival of England, who were pinned down in the Tests and the ODIs. At the tail end of the series, England are climbing out of the hole, first with a thrilling five-run victory in the third and last ODI in Kolkata and later with a convincing seven-wicket victory in the opening Twenty 20 series in Kanpur. The twin victories have sloughed off the forgettable memories of the tour, and England are now baring their teeth, charging ever faster towards the Indians.

Indian batsmen fell short where Morgan excelled in Kanpur. Barring captain VIrat Kohli, and to some extent Suresh Raina, none of the Indian batsmen could do justice to the batting conditions at the Green Park stadium. The shorter format has pulled the cover from Indian limitations. With MS Dhoni continuing to appear the blunted shadow of his superior self, a lot now depends on Kohli to plump the scoring. The opening slot is fast becoming a headache, despite Kohli promoting himself to the top of the order. KL Rahul hasn’t lived up to the potential in ODIs, and in the first T20I. He was seen batting along with Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh on the track adjacent to the match pitch, the three playing out a few yorkers and slower deliveries. The pitch at the expansive VCA stadium ground is brown and flat, and beckons the Indian batsmen to fire in the wake of depleted bowling.

In the absence of regular spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the Indians have found themselves at sea against the rampaging England stroke makers. Left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra couldn’t make much of an impact, leaving the Indian attack looking hapless. Jasprit Bumrah, though impressive at the death, was spanked all around the park with the new ball. Among the spinners, only leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal impressed. It means Amit Mishra might have to wait for his chance, though there will be a few changes going into the crucial encounter on Sunday.

High point

The bowlers, though, have been the high point of England with Chris Jordan making a return to the side. He troubled the Indians with his slow deliveries and wide yorkers. Newbie Tymal Mills too came good towards the death overs, after Moeen Ali provided the crucial breakthrough, in his tight spell, with the wicket of Kohli.

England batting is stacked with big hitters -- Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Morgan, who particularly delighted with his astute batting on Thursday. The attacking England captain, picked his bowlers, dealt largely with big hits, and along with Root didn’t allow the momentum to drop after Chahal removed Roy and Billings in the space of three balls.

Against a quality opposition, India have plenty to ponder about. On Sunday, it will be a test for Kohli as the new all-format captain and a champion batsman who detests losing.

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