India vs England 5th T20I Preview: Chance to gain psychological edge before T20 WC with all to play for
The next time India and England meet in a T20 International, it might well be the semi-final or the final of the T20 World Cup, and neither team would mind earning a few brownie points before the real deal comes their way.
Opportunity for one-upmanship before T20 WC
Before the five-match T20I series began, both captains were more than courteous in offering the favourites tag to the opposition. While Eoin Morgan reckoned that India were the favourites for the T20 World Cup in their home conditions, Indian captain Virat Kohli returned the favour, saying that England were currently the team to beat across white-ball cricket.
Just like the lack of unanimity in the two captains, the sea-sawing series has displayed that there is not a lot between the two sides to separate them in the shortest format of the game, regardless of the conditions. In fact, with the pace and bounce that all the first 4 T20Is have offered, the conditions appear to be more suited to England than India.
After the first three matches were one-sided, the fourth T20I ended up being a humdinger with the result of the match not decided until the penultimate delivery.
India are not scheduled to play any more T20Is before the T20 World Cup in October-November this year. With them being the favourites for the title alongside England, this will be a massive opportunity for both teams to win the match, take the series and gain a psychological advantage over their opponents. You never know, the next time India and England meet in a T20 International, it might well be the semi-final or the final of the T20 World Cup, and neither team would mind earning a few brownie points before the real deal comes their way.
The dew factor
In the 4th T20I, the dew played the biggest role in the series till now. While there was considerable dew in the first innings as well, by the time England came out to bat, there was a bit too much dew for the comfort of the Indian bowlers, with the ball appearing like a bar of wet soap.
This makes the toss even more crucial. As it is, the pitches in the series till now have been a bit tacky to begin with, which is why the side batting first has not been able to get off to a blistering start. To add to that, when the dew sets in in the second innings, it becomes very difficult for the bowlers to maintain their line and lengths as the batsmen have a gala time.
If the dew continues to fall heavily, the team chasing will have a massive advantage. Conversely, the team batting first will have to take that extra risk and go hell for leather from the outset to ensure that they have at least 20-25 runs more than the par score to give their bowlers a fair chance of having a crack at the opposition batsmen.
Are 5 bowlers enough for India?
Team India have gone in with only five bowling options over the last few matches which includes all-rounder Hardik Pandya. While it has served them alright till now, it is a big gamble to take. What if one of your bowlers has an off-day or suffers an injury!
While India might not want to tinker with that at least for the series decider, they will surely have to include a sixth bowling option in the long run. Perhaps, the team is waiting for Ravindra Jadeja to be back to full fitness.
Tewatia for Sundar... perhaps not
If the dew continues to be a big factor, India can consider bringing in another wrist spin option in Rahul Tewatia in place of Washington Sundar. As was evident in the last match, the dew makes Sundar quite toothless with his off-spin setting up to be hit.
However, it is likely that Virat Kohli will continue to be loyal to the off-spinner who has done a quite good job in the series bar the last match.
Here are the probable playing XIs:
India - Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Chahar
England - Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (c), Ben Stokes, Sam Curran/Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid
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