England face Ben Stokes decision ahead of T20I decider


England may have to take the hard call of sitting Joe Root out to include Stokes.

The bigger picture of India’s full tour of England was always going to be about what transpires in the ODIs and Tests. ODIs, because it gives a glimpse of where two solid contenders for the 2019 World Cup final in less than 12 months from now, stand currently. And Tests, because of the several narratives that add to the five-match contest, none better than how Virat Kohli is going to fare against his 2014 nemesis – the away swinger.

But before the teams can head to those endeavours, the T20I series has laid down the marker for the level of competitiveness that will follow. In an interesting turn of events, and scheduling, T20Is have come at the very start, and has received Kohli’s stamp of approval.


England’s cluelessness against Kuldeep Yadav in Manchester gave India a cruising start to the tour, but the hosts bit back. The odd dimensions at the stadium in Cardiff wrong-footed India and allowed England to equalise, even if they had to huff and puff to it. The finale in Bristol, thus, is expected to be a you-blink-I-hit affair with England now aware of dealing with spin, and India getting a chance to rectify theirs against pace and bounce.

Combination wise, the bigger worry belongs to England. In their victory, they’ve arrived at a conundrum. Alex Hales’s fifty means Ben Stokes’s reintegration into the final XI isn’t going to be as easy. “He [Stokes] is obviously a fantastic player, and there will be a difficult decision to make. We’ve made calls like this in the past, but we hope we’ll make it for the betterment of the team – and put out our strongest XI. Alex [Hales] always makes it difficult, particularly in T20 cricket. He’s played a lot for us – he’s one of our highest runscorers, a very experienced campaigner. An innings like that tonight makes him a pretty strong case for the next game,” Eoin Morgan said in the post-match presser in Cardiff. This means the big decision might involve relegating Joe Root to the bench, if they believe Stokes is a must-have.


Root has the backing of Paul Farbrace to succeed in the format and add a new dimension to a side filled with power-hitters, but hasn’t managed much in the one-off fixture against Australia and the two outings against India – his only T20Is this year. In the face of a tough chase, England also have the tendency of letting the likes of Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow bat ahead, pushing him down to No.6, where he doesn’t quite fit in.

When: England vs India, 3rd T20I, July 8, 2018, 14:00 Local, 18:30 IST

Where: County Ground, Bristol

What to expect: Third successive hot match day, and another ground with shorter straighter boundaries.


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Even the defeat in Cardiff shouldn’t push India to shake things up already. Virat Kohli has already spoken about needing flexibility in the line-up keeping the 50-over World Cup in 2019 in mind, and the experiment of him dropping down to No. 4 should continue. Suresh Raina was the third-highest scorer in India’s line-up on Friday, and has probably done enough to deny Dinesh Karthik and newcomer Krunal Pandya a chance in the T20Is.

Kuldeep Yadav was expertly kept at bay – and wicketless in the second game. The fear of being worked out was always going to be there, which even Kuldeep admitted after his heroics in Manchester. But the spinner-friendly venue at Bristol presents him with an opportunity to hit back.

Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav



Interestingly, Ben Stokes opened the innings for Durham in a T20 blast game against Yorkshire on Thursday, and scored a 68-ball 90 in a losing cause. There’s very little chance the position from which Stokes scored his runs is going to be important to Morgan, as he is in dire need of more players who aren’t vying for a spot in the top-two.

In the bowling department, Jake Ball should hold onto his place, even after a 22-run final over sullied his otherwise fantastic T20I debut.

Probable XI: Jos Buttler (wk), Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root/Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Jake Ball


Did you know?

– Rohit Sharma is 14 runs away from becoming the second Indian after Virat Kohli to score 2000 T20I runs

– If India lose the third T20I, it will be first instance of them losing a three-match bilateral T20I series. They have a 7-0 win-loss record in three-match bilateral series and have never lost the third match of such a series.

– Rohit Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan needs 38 more runs to go past the 1154 partnership runs scored by David Warner and Shane Watson to become the leading pair in T20 Internationals.

– India have won all their three previous ODIs at this venue but this will be their first appearance in a T20I here. On the other hand, England have lost both their T20Is here, the last one coming in 2011.

What they said:

“Jos [Buttler] has obviously played well with Jason in the last two games, but it’s not going to happen all the time. We’re going to have to devise a plan, what’s our best option in the middle order as well. And I don’t think we’ve found it yet.” – Eoin Morgan on England’s line-up worries.

“This [Cardiff game] was only his third match since 2012 but you can see the maturity level in the way he is bowling at the start and at the death. The start we want in the first six overs… he is giving us wickets there.” – Yuzvendra Chahal on Umesh Yadav filling in for Jasprit Bumrah

Shared News |  Last updated on Sat, 07 Jul, 2018, 09:38 PM