Team India and England lock horns in a five-match T20I which officially marks the beginning of both sides’ preparation for the ICC T20I World Cup scheduled to take place later this year. The first of the five-match series will take place on March 12 (Friday) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. All five matches will take place at the same venue due to coronavirus.
The hosts have included a couple of youngsters in their ranks to test their best possible XI ahead of the global event. Meanwhile, Shikhar Dhawan will make way for India’s returning vice-captain Rohit Sharma, and KL Rahul will hold on to the first-choice opener’s slot, confirmed Indian skipper Virat Kohli on the eve of the game. In the middle of a purple patch, Rishabh Pant has earned his comeback, which leaves a two-way battle between Shreyas Iyer and uncapped Suryakumar Yadav for the No. 4 slot.
On the bowling front, Varun Chakravarthy has failed to clear the fitness test and will miss the series. While the management continues to dwell over Rahul Tewatia’s fitness, the Indian skipper almost confirmed that Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar are likely to start. Bhuvneshwar Kumar could be in line for a comeback with T Natarajan also tending to a niggle at the NCA in Bengaluru, and hence not available for at least the series opener. This leaves a three-way battle between Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, and Navdeep Saini for the two remaining slots.
England, on the other hand, have a full squad to choose from and is likely to field their best XI in the first T20I against India. Jos Buttler and Jason Roy will continue to open with Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow at three and four. Jofra Archer’s availability for the entire series will be a massive boost for England after an elbow injury ruled him out of the last Test. The visitors are also likely to approach the two-spinner theory playing Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali together and both of them will be under the spotlight.
India vs England 2021: 1st T20I, Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad from 7:00 PM IST
Match Prediction – Who can win the match?
The previous two T20I series between the teams have ended in victories for India by the margin of 2-1. The second of those came in the English summer of 2018 and was the last time England lost a T20I series. India’s last series defeat was in early 2019 when Australia beat them 2-0, a Glenn Maxwell special taking the Aussie side to victory in the second match in Bangalore.
Both teams will be desperate to make a winning start but it will be Virat Kohli & Co, who will start as the favourites given their advantage of home conditions.