Cardiff: A dominant opening win has set the tone and India would look to ensure that a spin-wary England remains on the back-foot when the two sides clash in the second T20 international of the three-match series here, Friday.
Kuldeep Yadav took 5/24 and KL Rahul scored an unbeaten century, his second in T20Is, as the Men in Blue produced a fine all-round display to stun the hosts by eight wickets in Manchester for an early lead on this tour.
In fact, India stand on the cusp of a sixth successive T20I series’ win – a run stretching back to their 2-1 win over New Zealand at home in November 2017. In all, they have been unbeaten in bilateral T20I series since September last year.
In terms of ICC Rankings, a 2-0 series’ lead will allow India to close the gap with second-placed Australia, while a 3-0 whitewash will help them overleap to second behind top-ranked Pakistan. A loss Friday will see England drop down to rank seven below New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies, respectively.
The big question facing England is how to contend with the unorthodox wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav. In the aftermath of their loss Tuesday, both skipper Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler have urged their teammates to show more patience at the crease and watch the ball carefully.
But with such a short turnaround in the fixtures’ list, it is easier said than done. The English camp will deploy the services of spin-bowling machine ‘Merlyn’ at Cardiff. A scarcity of unorthodox wrist spinners to practice against is one of the key reasons for this move, as the spin-bowling machine is capable of replicating every style of delivery.
An English team last used it ahead of the 2005 Ashes, when they were practicing to contend with Shane Warne.
Despite the loss, one of the key strengths for England is their top order’s ability to handle pace and they would like another fast start at Cardiff. Their only concern would be the middle order batsmen who will face the wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal.
It is perhaps the only real concern for India emanating from that first game as the enforced new-ball pairing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav was proven ineffective at Old Trafford.
Even with Kuldeep causing all sorts of trouble for the hosts, India wouldn’t like to pull things back after a high-flying English start once again.