ENG vs IND, 1st T20I: Rohit Sharma in focus on comeback as India face stiff test against Jos Buttler’s England

India will look to intensify their build-up to the T20 World Cup as they face high-quality opposition in England in a 3-match T20I series, starting July 7 in Southampton. Rohit Sharma is back for the visitors after having recovered from Covid-19, which kept him out of the one-off Test against England in Birmingham.

Rohit Sharma was not expected to be part of the 1st T20I as the Test regulars were rested for the series opener, but having missed the Test and recovered from the health setback, the skipper is gearing up to lead a bunch of youngsters, who have had plenty of match practice.

India have not lost a T20I bilateral series to England since the one-off loss in 2014 and Rohit will have good memories of playing the shortest format of the game in Old Blighty. Rohit top-scored with 137 runs in 3 matches as India sealed the series 2-1 in 2018.

However, past records will matter very little for India, who are looking to crack the T20I combination in the lead-up to the World Cup. While the likes of Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja are not available for the first T20I, the spotlight will be on Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda and Dinesh Karthik as they look to seal their spots when the big names return.

DINESH KARTHIK’S DREAM RETURN

Dinesh Karthik, who was in England last year as part of the host broadcasters’ commentary panel, has all but sealed his spot for the World Cup. Having returned to the side for the first time in 3 years during a home series against South Africa, Karthik has impressed with his improved finishing skills, which were evident when he turned up for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022. Karthik continued his good run in Ireland and went on to lead the side in the practice matches earlier this month.

Suryakumar Yadav, who made his much-awaited comeback from injury against Ireland, looked scratchy but the team management will be hoping he returns to full flow. Ishan Kishan is set to pair with Rohit at the top of the order, while Deepak Hooda, who is fresh from a T20I century against Ireland, will also look to stake a claim for a consistent place in the squad.

TEST FOR AXAR PATEL

Bhuvneshwar Kumar will lead the bowling attack in the first T20I, while India will be keen on giving opportunities to Arshdeep Singh after Umran Malik played the Ireland T20Is.

It will be a stiff test for Axar Patel because the left-hander has struggled to make a mark despite having played against South Africa and Ireland. With Jadeja returning for the 2nd T20I, Axar will be hoping to make a good impact.

On the other hand, England have a point to prove in the shortest format of the game as Jos Buttler takes over as full-time captain following Eoin Morgan’s retirement.

Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes are the talks of the town with their ‘Bazball’ approach in Tests and the duo of Buttler and Matthew Motts will be keen on furthering the reputation of the England white-ball team.

England will not have Stokes and Adil Rashid for the T20Is but there is enough firepower to pose a strong challenge to India. Notably, they are heading into the series after having thrashed the Netherlands in ODIs, but their last T20I assignment — a 5-match series in West Indies, ended in a 2-3 defeat.

ENGLAND vs INDIA, 1st T20I SQUADS

1st T20I: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaekwad, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik

England: Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Jason Roy, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, David Willey, Richard Gleeson, Jos Buttler (Captain), Philip Salt, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, Matthew Parkinson, Reece Topley.

— ENDS —

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