Chastened England aim to stay at No. 1
India v England, October 29, Kolkata
Start time 1830 (1300 GMT)
England have not won a match against India in India since 2006, and this Twenty20, strangely scheduled after the one-day series, is probably their best opportunity. The India players would have enjoyed the festivities over the three-day Diwali break. MS Dhoni visited his home in Jharkhand for the first time in four months after the fifth ODI, and his tweet on arriving at Eden Gardens on Thursday - "Kolkata, back on national duty" - did not reveal a great deal of enthusiasm at the prospect of this one-off game.
England's biggest weakness over the five one-dayers was that their batsmen struggled against India's spinners, and will hope that the reduced number of overs will make R Ashwin and co less effective. They will also have a new captain, and will need Graeme Swann's famed wit to lighten the spirits of some visibly frustrated players. Swann reckons England should just enjoy the match, after a testing series so far, and that may be their best bet against an India side that may struggle to find meaning in the match after having already battered England over the one-dayers.
The big test during this Twenty20 could well be for neither team, but for the Bengal Cricket Association. The sparse crowds that marred the ODI series were typified by the half-empty Eden Gardens stadium for the final one-dayer. The Diwali season may have been an excuse for that poor turnout, but with the festival now over, the number of people the organisers can bring through the gates on Saturday could be an indicator of where cricket in India is headed.
One thing that will not work in their favour is the odd scheduling of the match. The significance of a one-off Twenty20 games is debatable in any case, but at least when scheduled before an ODI series they may act as something of a preview to the series. Now, with India fans already high on the euphoria of the 5-0 drubbing and Diwali, it is questionable how many people remember England are even still here.
There are a few points of interest in the match, though. This is the first Twenty20 international since the ICC announced the official Twenty20 rankings. England are currently ranked first, but a loss will take them down to third, while India will want to improve their No. 5 ranking.
India: LWWWW (completed games, most recent first)
Robin Uthappa has not played for India since 2008 but has been dominating domestic attacks in recent times. Innings of 92 off 36 balls and 64 off 20 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy suggest he belongs at a higher level. Parthiv Patel's failures in the one-day series mean this is a good time for Uthappa to make a case for himself as a reserve opener in the limited-over formats.
Less than a year ago, Yusuf Pathan hit a couple of one-day centuries that seemed like they would cement his place in the India side for some time to come. A mediocre World Cup and a poor West Indies tour later, Yusuf found himself out of not just the playing XI but the squad. He too has been bludgeoning attacks in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and will have a real point to prove if he plays in Kolkata.
Since bursting onto the scene with 41 off 21 balls against India in Cardiff, Jonny Bairstow has had a poor run in internationals, and managed just 49 runs in four innings in the one-dayers in India. With a few other young dynamic batsmen coming into contention for the Twenty20s, Bairstow will want to ensure he is still head of the pack.
Both Yusuf and Uthappa should make it to the XI, in place of Ravindra Jadeja and Parthiv Patel, who is not in the Twenty20 squad. Gautam Gambhir is also missing the game to get married, and Manoj Tiwary should play in his place. Rahul Sharma was included in the squad on the back of his performances in the IPL so it would make sense to try him out in the Twenty20 format.
India (probable): 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Manoj Tiwary, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt and wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 R Ashwin/ Rahul Sharma, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 R Vinay Kumar, 11 Varun Aaron
Alex Hales and Jos Buttler are in India specifically for the Twenty20 and should play. Jade Dernbach was replaced by Stuart Meaker for the final ODI, but has a decent Twenty20 record and could return to the side. If Kevin Pietersen doesn't recover from his thumb injury Ian Bell could slot in having previously been dropped for Twenty20 cricket.
England (probable): 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Ian Bell/Kevin Pietersen, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Tim Bresnan, 10 Jade Dernbach, 11 Steven Finn
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at Eden Gardens for the fifth one-dayer was slow and started to offer considerable turn as the match wore on. There will not be as much deterioration over 40 overs, but if the matches here during the IPL were any indication, the Twenty20 may not be as high-scoring as some might hope.
Stats and trivia
- This will be the first Twenty20 international England will play on Indian soil. The two have played each other three times in T20s, with England leading the head-to-head 2-1
- This will be the first Twenty20 international played in India since 2009. There have been just three completed T20Is in India before, and the home side have a 2-1 record
- With 1011 runs, Kevin Pietersen has the second-most runs in Twenty20 internationals among all batsmen. Only Brendon McCullum has more
"We don't play enough Twenty20 internationals in a tour. I would look forward to the time when every tour would have at least a three-match Twenty20 series."
Graeme Swann is not pleased that England will play just one Twenty20
Dustin Silgardo is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo