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1st T20I: Big moments await India’s T20 specialists

 The Kanpur T20I will host a big stage for India’s young guns and bygone heroes!

Akash Khanna | New Delhi |

A whole new and exciting brigade will be seen in action on Thursday, when Virat Kohli-led India will lock horns against England in the first T20 International match at Green Park Stadium in Kanpur.

The three-match T20I series will start in Kanpur, followed by second and third T20I in Nagpur and Bangalore respectively. Earlier, India routed England by 4-0 in five-match Test series and 2-1 in the three-match ODI series. Now with the T20I series, India will look to continue the dominance over the English.

Besides a chance to continue winning momentum, the Kanpur T20I will host a big stage for India’s young guns and bygone heroes, who will be bidding for a debut or a comeback in the national side. These T20 specialists will look to put their best foot forward at the big moment.

“The guys who have come in have done pretty well in the IPL, in the domestic T20s. I would say it is a series of opportunities for a lot of guys to seal their spots,” Team India skipper Kohli said in a pre-match conference on Wednesday.

Top order batsman Rishabh Pant and bowling all-rounder Parvez Rasool would make their T20I debut, while young cricketers with a handful of international experience, Mandeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal will look to seal a berth in the shortest format of the game. 

Rishabh, 19, earned a national call up after his stellar performance in the U-19 World Cup last year, following a fruitful domestic season throughout. The left-handed batsman from Delhi may open Indian innings tomorrow with KL Rahul.

However, another batsman queued up for the opening spot is Mandeep Singh, who has played three T20Is for India so far. With his T20I-best knock of 52 (not out), Mandeep scored 87 runs from three matches at a strike rate of 119.17.  

If it’s a fight of opening spot between these two, Rishabh deserves more to be in the playing eleven. Mandeep couldn’t do wonders with the willow as he was dismissed for just eight runs in the first practise match. However, Rishabh scored causative 59 runs off 36 balls in the second warm-up match.

Amidst the wave of young guns, India’s bygone but top notch T20 specialists Suresh Raina and Ashish Nehra will be under the spotlight in Kanpur. Both, Raina and Nehra, were missed out from the ODI squad against England – a fact that will make them put their souls into the game to count on the big opportunity.

The 37-year-old warhorse pacer Nehra played last for India in March last year during the 2016 T20I World Cup. Defying age, Nehra has improved miraculously with speed and accuracy in the recent past. Although Nehra couldn’t take a single wicket in the practice match, he is expected to keep the English under control in death overs with Jasprit Bumrah.

On the other hand, Raina, 30, will strengthen India’s middle-order and support bowling unit with his part-time but effective off-spin. Legend in a disguise, Raina was the first Indian to score a century in all-three formats. However, he’ll be aiming for even bigger this time in Kanpur.

Wounded England have added Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills to strengthen their pace attack. 

In the batting department, their top-order will be the core, comprising hard hitters like Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, besides skipper Eoin Morgan and all-rounder Moeen Ali.

All-rounder Ben Stokes, who was a charm to see in the ODI and Test series, will look to continue favourable form in the shortest format as well. In the recent three-match ODI series, he scored 120 runs and claimed five wickets.

India Probable XI: Virat Kohli (C), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (WK), Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Mandeep Singh/Rishabh Pant, Parvez Rasool, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra

England Probable XI: Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler (WK), Liam Dawson, Joe Root, Alex Hales, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey/Chris Jordan