The first big clash between England and India of the summer comes along on Sunday when the two sides meet in the deciding T20 of their three match series in Bristol with early bragging rights very much at stake.
India drew first blood in Manchester earlier in the week but England equalised with a win of their own on Friday evening and now the series will be decided once and for all down in Gloucestershire.
It wasn’t a perfect performance from England in Cardiff but it was one which was good enough to get the job done which will please them. What they will have enjoyed from it was the way their seamers bowled. I mentioned that they hadn’t used their variations too well at Old Trafford but they did exactly that in Cardiff.
One problem heading to Bristol is that the short ball might not have such an effect because the square boundaries are not as big here. Their top three have all got runs so far but England may need their lower order to rescue them at some point over the rest of the summer so it would be no bad thing if a few of them got time at the crease here.
Although they lost the previous match I’m not convinced India will be too unhappy with how things went. They will be disappointed with their first six to eight overs with the bat and from there they were always struggling to make it up to a par score and beyond. As it was they were about 15 short of that figure but they gave it their all in an attempt to defend what they had.
I’m sure it will not be lost on the Indians where they need to tighten up. That is early on in their batting innings. They could do with a platform from their openers and if they were to get that then look out because we’ve seen those who follow are all in excellent nick with the bat. The positive from Cardiff was how well their seamers bowled.
Ben Stokes is back in the England squad for this match having impressed in a T20 for Durham on Thursday evening but he is only playing as a batsman so whether he gets back in the side will be interesting. Moeen Ali will be hoping for a return having been left out due to the Cardiff ground dimensions.
India are not expected to change too much to their side even in defeat. They could push KL Rahul up the order to open if they wanted to bring another batsman into the side but that would be panicking for no reason.
I’ve been on India throughout this series and it seems daft to desert them now. They probably couldn’t have batted any worse in Cardiff and freak things like what happened to Shikhar Dhawan will never happen again and even then they took it to the final over and nearly won.
England played the Indian spinners better on Friday but they were able to because they were chasing nothing. If they are chasing plenty or setting a total I would expect the struggles of Old Trafford to return. This should be a cracking match but given what we’ve seen in the two games thus far India are the value at evens.
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