After a dominant performance in the test series, India faced a tougher challenge in the T20I series. Given India’s track record in the limited-overs format and the depth of the squad, it surely promised another interesting contest against the defending world champions. This series was also crucial for the Indian players looking to secure their berth for the T20 World Cup. It was a well-fought series capped off with a scintillating performance by the Men in Blue. Indian team prevailed to secure their 6th consecutive T20I series victory. There are a lot of positives to take away from this series heading into another IPL season. The host nation would surely look to continue to build upon the momentum till the T20 world cup later this year.
There have been strong performances throughout this series but here are our key takeaways from this series:
Virat Kohli silences the critics
Kohli found himself in an unusual spot before the start of this series. A barrage of performances that everyone has come to expect from him put him under some serious pressure. But he showed everyone why he is the greatest Indian batsman of this generation and the leader of this team. He ended up as the highest run-scorer of the series and earned the Man of the Series award. During this series, he also became the first batsman to reach 3000 T20I runs and the highest runs as a captain in T20Is. We have got accustomed to such a high standard of performance from him that such accomplishments feel like a routine task. He opened with Rohit Sharma in the decider and paved the way to a massive total, India’s highest ever in T20 against England. It was so impressive that Kohli has decided to open the innings for Bangalore in the upcoming IPL to turn the fortunes for his team. His level of fitness, consistency and the way he paces his innings to take his team over the finish line makes him a remarkable athlete in this sport.
Mumbai Indians stars making their mark
This series provided the opportunity to two budding cricketers who proved themselves in IPL. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav made their T20I debut in this series and impressed everyone with their important batting contributions. Both the players made the most of their opportunity by scoring a half-century in their first ever outing. They showed maturity and composure for someone with their experience. In the bowling department, Rahul Chahar got an opportunity to replace the experienced Yuzvendra Chahal. He wasn’t his prolific best with expensive bowling spells in the matches. You can imagine why Mumbai Indians is such a dominant team in the IPL when half of their playing XI also represent the Indian team.
Lack of depth for the World Champions
England has emerged as one of the strongest squads in the limited over format in recent years. They have finally managed to crack the formula of a strong playing XI that perform as a unit rather than individuals. It managed to finally get them the World Cup glory. This tournament however raised concerns as the middle and lower order failed to chip in at the crucial moments. England could have taken home the series in the last 2 matches but failed on both occasions. Identify the pattern: while chasing a big total in both the matches, England crumbled in the death overs. In the 4th match, England lost 5 wickets for 47 runs and in the series decider, England lost 7 wickets for 44 runs. England stuck to the same batting lineup and was eventually let down with the exception of Buttler, Malan and Roy. Bowlers won’t get much flak as this format is truly a batsman’s game. England bowlers could worry Indian batsmen but nothing to the match-winning effect.
India’s strong death over bowling
Indian bowlers were mighty impressive in the death overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was spearheading the bowling attack after a long period in Bumrah’s absence. He was joined by Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Hardik Pandya and they didn’t disappoint. Indian bowlers crippled the England team breaking their momentum during run chases. Just look at the bowling figures of Indian bowlers in the last 5 overs: 35–2 in 2nd T20I, 45–4 in 4th T20I and 46–4 in 5th T20I. Not just slowing the flow of the runs but also scalping wickets. England counterparts managed to give away at least 50 runs on all the occasions when the Indian team batted the entire innings. Bhuvneshwar Kumar showed the signs of the old days with Man of the Match performance in the decider. Shardul Thakur had a knack to create wickets out of thin air in his second spell. Hardik Pandya proved he could be that dependable 5th bowling option for his captain. Washington Sundar continued his good form from the Australia tour and England test series. In a batsmen dominated format, it is the icing on the cake when bowlers manage to assist their team in such a fashion.
Who will open for the Indian team?
Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, who is going to pair up with Rohit Sharma. Dhawan and KL Rahul have been India’s match-winner in the past. But every time these guys misfire an emerging youngster grab that opportunity with both hands. KL Rahul had a series to forget. Dhawan didn’t get multiple opportunities in this series to make any statement. Even Kohli has proved himself as a good opener in IPL and the series decider. Rohit Sharma’s position as an opener is nothing but sealed. This becomes more difficult when we consider other prospects who are having a great domestic season. Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal had a magnificent run in Vijay Hazare Trophy breaking several records and scoring runs for fun. Considering all these players, it will be a headache for the selectors to choose the ideal partner for Rohit Sharma.
India will now face England in a 3 match ODI series before heading into another gruelling IPL season. A lot of cricketing action coming your way.