Thursday, January 26, 2017
Start time 1630 local (1100 GMT)
England finally found reasons to grin when Chris Woakes owned the last four balls of his final over in Kolkata, sealing their first win since November. The tension, pressure, dejection and relief were all palpable in the closing overs. On India's Republic Day, the teams now move to a format where those emotions last for the game's entirety, and four well-executed yorkers mean nothing until you can "finish an over".
New limited-overs captain Virat Kohli hasn't led India in a T20 but he is familiar with the nuances of the role, having captained Royal Challengers Bangalore since 2011. Besides, as was visible in the ODI series, he has MS Dhoni to guide him along. What either of them won't have is the assurance of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, who were rested for the T20s. With a healthy mix of veterans - Ashish Nehra, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Amit Mishra - and uninhibited youth (Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya) in India's squad, will experience or exuberance dominate?
England's T20 set-up is largely the same as their ODI team, a compliment to how seamlessly they can make the transition from one format to another. Despite not being "near their best", they could have whitewashed India 3-0 in the ODIs had they won clutch moments. England's batting explosiveness, from nos. 1 to 11, will keep them in the contest, and if the bowlers can find their end-overs rhythm, the visitors will be hard to get past.
India LWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Amit Mishra will take over as India's leading spinner for the T20s, with Jadeja and Ashwin rested. Historically, England have had their share of woes against spin. A wristspinner, like Mishra, will extract more than a fingerspinner with the increased number of revolutions imparted on the ball. Despite his unwillingness to use the googly in the Test series against England, Mishra will be a handful even if England's batsmen can read his variations.
England posted scores of 350, 366 and 321 despite the absence of Jos Buttler's pyrotechnics through the middle overs. He scored just 52 runs in three innings. Armed with a variety of reverse-sweeps and scoops, Buttler is plausibly England's most destructive ball-striker.
India have plenty of batsmen - both fresh and experienced - to choose from. Virat Kohli said he was open to the idea of opening if that added balance to the squad. It might be the best way to accommodate Suresh Raina at No. 3, followed by Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. It is unlikely they will field two legpsinners, increasing Parvez Rasool's chances and, if the quick bowlers are to be picked on form, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will have an edge over Jasprit Bumrah.
India (probable) 1 KL Rahul/Mandeep Singh, 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Manish Pandey, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Parvez Rasool, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Jasprit Bumrah
Eoin Morgan confirmed Joe Root was fit after recovering from his niggle, whereas David Willey, who joined the squad on Tuesday morning from Kolkata after scans, was not available for selection. With Woakes not in the T20 squad, England may bring in Sussex team-mates Chris Jordan and speedster Tymal Mills for early wickets. They might want to stick with four quicks and leave Adil Rashid out as they did in the last two ODIs.
England (probable) 1 Sam Billings, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jos Buttler (wk), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Liam Plunkett, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Tymal Mills, 11 Jake Ball
Pitch and conditions
Back to small grounds and flat pitches then, after a grassy Eden Gardens. With dew playing a bigger role in north India, the first T20 will start at 4.30pm to make it a more even contest. Temperatures are expected to be in the early 20s when the match starts and dip a little later.
Stats and trivia
The last time India lost while chasing in a T20I despite Virat Kohli making a fifty was against England at Edgbaston in 2014, also the previous encounter between these two teams. Since then, Kohli has struck four fifty-plus scores in successful T20I chases
Yuvraj Singh has won two Man-of-the-Match awards against England in T20Is
Of the 206 T20s Kohli has played, he has captained in 72 of them. He has not led India though
"At the moment the guys are feeling a lot more confident than they were maybe after game two. They did a lot of hard work but didn't get a win under their belt, Looking forward to a three-match series potentially could be very exciting."
Eoin Morgan wants to build on the confidence and momentum they gained from the win the final ODI.
"I have only opened once or maybe twice for India, but I have experience opening in the IPL. If need be then I could or I might not depending on the balance of the side. There are all kinds of possibilities."
Virat Kohli didn't give much indication of who would open on Thursday