Ireland vs India, 1st T20I Preview: Can Ireland prove their mettle on Hardik Pandya's captaincy debut?
With Rishabh Pant along with the Test squad in England, Hardik Pandya has been appointed India's stand-in captain after his heroics for Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022.
After the five-match T20 series between India and South Africa was tied at 2-2 with the last match being washed out, the Indian team is now off to Ireland for 2 T20s before the marquee series against England.
New regime, new policy
India will play 2 T20s at The Village in Dublin and will have an opportunity to try out a few of their players.
It was a departure from the modus operandi of the last regime when Team India did not make any changes through the entire 5 match T20 series against South Africa. However, that was also due to the situation of the series with India losing the first two matches and the first priority being winning that series.
Additionally, VVS Laxman will take over from head coach Rahul Dravid for these two matches as the latter is with the Indian test squad in England.
Karthik to keep?
There are a couple of changes in the Indian squad as well and hence a few new faces will be on display come the first T20 International on Sunday, June 26.
Rishabh Pant is in England for test duties and Dinesh Karthik is most likely to keep wickets in his place. Shreyas Iyer too is in England and Suryakumar Yadav who is back after injury is set to replace him at number 3.
Tripathi or Samson? Arshdeep or Umran?
The most tricky decision would be between Sanju Samson and Rahul Tripathi for the number four spot. Tripathi is perhaps more suited to the middle order role but Samson has more experience at this level.
The Indian bowling will be more or less the same. The only change that might happen is for India to introduce either of middle overs enforcer Umran Malik or death bowling specialist Arshdeep Singh in place of spin bowling all rounder Axar Patel as there might be not too much spin on offer in Dublin.
The last time Ireland took the field, it was way back in February this year when they came up against United Arab Emirates in the final of the ICC men's T20 World Cup Qualifier A 2022. The team lost by 7 wickets.
Harry Tector was the top run scorer for Ireland in the series with 116 runs at 38.6, a strike rate of 133.33 and the best of 50. Paul Stirling also made 116 at an average of 23.20 while Gareth Delany contributed with 113.
With the ball, Joshua Little took 7 wickets at an average of 16.71 and an economy rate of 5.85. Craig Young and Andy McBrine also took 8 and 6 wickets respectively. McBrine bowled with the best economy rate in the tournament.
As far as recent form goes, Andy Balbirnie has scored the most runs in the last 10 T20 Internationals for Ireland with 250 runs at a strike rate of 141.24. Lorcan Tucker is behind him with 237 runs at 33.86.
Craig Young and Mark Adair have been the leading wicket takers for the side in recent times.
India's spotless record against Ireland
The two matches will bring great exposure for Ireland but the hosts will now want to put something substantial on the board, having lost all their three T20 Internationals against India by massive margins.
Hardik Pandya who is making his India captaincy debut will have different thoughts, though.
Predicted Playing XIs
Ireland - Paul Stirling, Andy Balbirnie (c), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Stephen Doheny, Andy McBrine, Curtis Campher, Mark Adair, Barry McCarthy, Josh Little
India - Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson/Rahul Tripathi, Hardik Pandya (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Harshal Patel, Umran Malik/Arshdeep Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal
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