Bengaluru set for grand finale

Bengaluru set for grand finale

Rejuvenated Indians will be gunning for a treble while a smarting England would be looking to end a long and punishing tour on a glorious note as the two sides lock horns in a mouth-watering third and final T20I here on Wednesday.

Having captured the five-match Test series 4-0 late last year and kick-started the New Year with a 2-1 verdict in the ODIs, the Indians, despite missing some key personnel for T20Is for various factors, would be licking their lips at the prospect of handing their rivals a forgettable farewell at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

That thought, of course, wouldn’t have been possible if not for a thrilling win in the second T20I at Nagpur. Defending a tricky target of 145 and with England needing just eight runs from the final over with anchor-man Joe Root and the big-hitting Jos Buttler at the crease, it appeared pretty much a lost cause for the Indians. However, the young and fast-rising Jasprit Bumrah bowed a magical over, first dismissing Root through some help from the umpire and then castling Buttler as Indians scampered home by five runs.

It is with that confidence India would be approaching the series-decider although they have some issues to sort out against an England side that’s extremely potent in this version of the game. Firstly, it's the opening blues that's been troubling them for a while now. Ever since regular opener (ODIs and T20Is) Rohit Sharma got injured after the New Zealand series in October, the Indians have struggled in this very important department.

The Shikhar Dhawan-K L Rahul pair misfired badly in the opening two ODIs while Ajinkya Rahane couldn't grab his chance in the final ODI. Rahul rediscovered his form with a free-stroking 47-ball 71 on a sluggish Nagpur pitch but Virat Kohli, who opened in the first two games as the squad doesn't have another accomplished opener, has had mixed returns.

Although Kohli opened for the Royal Challengers Bangalore last IPL season, he somehow doesn’t look comfortable in that position as compared to his regular No 3 position. It would be interesting to see if the management choses to hand the young and dangerous Rishab Pant a debut in a bid to catch England cold or try Manish Pandey at the top to just shuffle things a bit.

The experienced trio of Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who couldn’t explode big in the two games so far, would be happy taking guard in Bengaluru.

The Chinnaswamy strip, like in the past, promises plenty of runs with curator K Sriram predicting a score in the vicinity of 170. With the freshly laid outfield expected to be lightning quick, it could rain boundaries. The bowlers, who have done well in the first two games, would be wary of that and will have very little room for error against the big-hitting English batsmen.

England, despite losing the second game, would be as confident as the Indians. Runners-up at last year’s World T20, they appear far more balanced and sorted in almost every department. In Root, they have a batsman who can anchor the innings till the end while the likes of Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Buttler can take the game away from the opposition with explosiveness.

A win would also apply balm on what has been a very difficult tour for them. While they were outplayed in the Test series, they had their moments in the ODIs, losing the first two games despite posting scores of 350. India, though, will be eyeing a victorious climax.
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