India eye series victory at Cardiff

A staggering performance from the Men in Blue, ensured a royal start to India’s tour of England, with a massive 8-wicket win against an English side which made a mockery of Australia, winning all 6 limited over games.

Before the first game, the limited-overs leg was already seen as a battle between England’s batting heavyweights and India’s wrist spinners. After the first T20I, the battle still remains the same with India’s tweakers delivering the first blow at Manchester.

England were reduced from 106/2 to 159/8 thanks to a Kuldeep Yadav special that bamboozled the likes of Morgan, Bairstow, Root and Co to stage a mighty collapse. In reply, India chased the target without breaking a sweat, riding on Rahul’s unbeaten 101.

Before both the teams move to Cardiff for the second T20I, here is all that you need to read about the squads.

From the Indian dugout:

India’s skipper Virat Kohli sacrificed his number three position for KL Rahul who made every minute of his stay count in the middle for India. Shikhar Dhawan’s early dismissal meant that Rahul got a taste of the new ball, a situation fit for someone in his kind of form. The game could’ve changed had Roy not dropped him. India were placed at 26/1 at that point but everyone knows what followed next.

This also means that now, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, a formidable opening pair, might feel the pressure with KL Rahul consistently scoring big runs. Talking about India's untested middle order, it will be interesting to see where Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni bat in the next game.

India’s concerns will still rest with the new ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar found no swing while the pair of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler made a strong statement in the first five overs. Siddharth Kaul and Deepak Chahar will be available on the bench but Kohli is unlikely to make a change and persist with Kumar.

Kumar's new ball partner, Umesh Yadav was clinical, picking two wickets at a very economical rate. India also have an option in Krunal Pandya, the slow-left-arm orthodox, considering England’s woes to face spin. The fact that he turns the ball away from right-handers will help him make a strong case with Eoin Morgan being the only left-handed batsman in their middle order.

His brother Hardik Pandya bowled cleverly in the first match, taking pace off the ball when required, mixing lengths and not being predictable to help India curtail the run flow.

Overall, Kohli would not want to tinker with the winning combination but experiment with his middle order at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

From the English dugout:

England were completely outplayed by India in both departments at Old Trafford. Eoin Morgan’s men will certainly need ways to tackle India’s wrist-spin. Kuldeep Yadav was tossing the ball enough, teasing the batsmen, forcing them to commit on the front foot and make a mistake.

He bowled traditionally like a red-ball bowler from the 1970s, enticing the batsman to make mistakes. The hosts could barely read his wrong’ un but they’ll be working around ways to counter him.

The only silver lining was Jos Buttler. The opener was smart, paying enough respect to Kuldeep and more importantly, playing on the back foot and waiting for the ball to turn.

Talking about England’s bowling department, nothing apart from David Willey’s first over challenged India. Chris Jordan was bowling at a pace convenient for Rahul to hit while Plunkett barely made an impact.

England’s premier spinner Adil Rashid was bowling flat and quick, which did not help his cause. The Indian batsmen were playing him on merit -- cutting and pulling the short balls and driving the ones bowled around the good length area.

Moeen Ali’s off-spin looked very ordinary in front of Rahul who used his feet to good effect. Rahul picked his deliveries and did not miss a chance to step out.

England head coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Eoin Morgan will be hoping that the boys can put up a better show in Cardiff and save the series when they take the field on Friday.

The second T20I will begin at 10 PM IST.



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