India face England’s pace bowling test in do or die clash, aim to level T20 series with win - GulfToday

India face England’s pace bowling test in do or die clash, aim to level T20 series with win


Despite three ducks in his last four T20Is, India’s captain Virat Kohli and batting coach Vikram Rathour back KL Rahul (right) to perform in the next match. Agence France-Presse

England’s pace bowling and opener KL Rahul’s position in the playing XI, especially at the top of the order, will be the questi ons India will have to answer if they are to survive in the T20 series against England.

India need to win the fourth T20I on Thursday at the Narendra Modi Stadium to stay alive in the series after England won the third match to go 2-1 up in the series.

Leading England’s charge is their pace bowling attack. Mark Wood has been among the wickets and has made run-making difficult with the pace and bounce he generates from the pitch. England have won both the matches in which Wood played.

Wood gave away 20 runs in his four overs picking a wicket in the first match and then took three wickets in the next match to help his team restrict India despite Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 77.

India have failed to get good starts and were it not for Ishan Kishan’s blitzkrieg in the second T20 International, opener Rahul’s failure would have been even more prominent.

The right-handed batsman has racked up scores of 1, 0 and 0 in the three T20Is and it looks likely that Kishan, who opened in the second T20I will go back to opening in the fourth match.

But over four months after finishing as IPL’s top-scorer, Rahul is struggling at the international level of the format. Let aside big-hitting, he is struggling to even get off the mark.

Even in the last T20 International he played in the series in Australia, Rahul made a duck which makes it three ducks in his last four T20Is.

It puts his place in the playing XI for the fourth T20I on Thursday in doubt and there is a likelihood that he may be pushed down the batting order to No. 4 if not left out.

But both captain Kohli and batting coach Vikram Rathour have, however, backed Rahul to perform.

“Anyone can have a lean phase. In the last one year, KL been our best batsman in the T20 format, averaging 40-plus and striking at 145. Three failures don’t change the fact that he is the best batsman in the format,” said Rathour while speaking to the media.

“He has done really well for us in the past one year and this is the time that the team has to support him. (We are) absolutely sure he will come out of this lean phase,” he added.

While he had a 51 and a 30 in the first two T20Is in Australia, prior to COVID-19 he did well in New Zealand at the top of the order. He got a couple of half-centuries, made 45, 39 and 27 while opening the batting, making it difficult for India to ignore him as an opening option. Even for his IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings), he opened the batting and scored heavily.

Former India chief selector MSK Prasad said that he feels Rahul should be playing in the middle-order.

“I would prefer Rahul to bat in the middle-order which he has done to perfection. If someone like Ishan Kishan or Shikhar Dhawan can bat up, KL in the middle can be a good option although now they are trying others like Suryakumar Yadav too,” said Prasad.

Rahul did well in the T20Is in New Zealand. Post COVID-19, the batsman returned as the Orange Cap winner in the Indian Premier League, getting 670 runs for the 2020 season and earning the vice-captaincy slot for the limited overs series in Australia in the absence of injured Rohit Sharma.

India will also be worried about their spin attack. Their main spinner Yuzvendra Chahal seems to have been marked out. The England batsmen, Jos Buttler in particular, didn’t allow him to settle in Tuesday’s match.

Indo-Asian News Service

India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T. Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.

England squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood

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