Brett’s watch list: Man of the Match contenders for 3rd India-England T20I
India vs England T20I series is back to square one, and one has to give the due credit to India’s young guns who delivered a sumptuous performance to give the visitors a run for their money. It feels like Virat Kohli-led Team India are making a habit of making a comeback, and personally, it is so entertaining to be on the other side.
I want to congratulate Ishan Kishan on a memorable debut in international cricket and in this piece, I give you my four picks who I believe could deliver a Man of the Match performance in the third T20I, to be played at Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium on March 16.
If there’s any player in the Indian cricket team at the moment who epitomises the word ‘confidence’ it is their star wicket-keeper, Rishabh Pant. He was at his brutal best in the second T20I, scoring a swashbuckling 26 runs off just 13 balls, and I’m expecting more of the same from him. The unexpected nature of his play is what makes him a sheer delight, and now that he is accustomed to Motera’s pitch, I won’t be surprised if the English bowling attack finds it difficult to keep him quiet.
While Sundar appeared more as a batsman in the Test series, his exploits with the ball in the two T20Is so far explains the kind of versatility he brings on the table. The first T20I saw him conceding 18 runs for one wicket in 2.3 overs, and the all-rounder upped the ante in the following fixture. He was once again economical in the second encounter giving away just 29 runs in four overs and also scalping two important wickets of Jason Roy, who was cruising to a half-century, and Jonny Bairstow. I’m so looking forward to seeing what he does next.
Jonny Bairstow, who needs just 22 runs to reach the 1000-run mark for England in T20Is, has always been a threat for India. So far in his career, he has hit Yuzvendra Chahal at a strike rate of 233.3, scoring 21 runs in just nine balls across two innings. That figure has come without losing his wicket even once. Bairstow is a pure entertainer in the shortest format, however, his recent outings have failed to justify what he is known for. While there have been glimpses, I’m somewhat expecting a stern display from the 31-year-old in the upcoming encounter.
India’s middle-order is particularly strong against spin, and Eoin Morgan’s decision of giving Adil Rashid the new ball in the first T20I worked well for the visitors. In only his second over, Rashid bagged the wicket of India talisman Virat Kohli, and the spinner went on to finish with figures of 1/14 in his three overs. The 33-year-old has enjoyed decent success against India’s top-order, dismissing Rohit, Kohli and Kishan once, and it is outrightly enough to underline the threat he brings.