<
>

India focus on experiments with Ireland series on the line

play
Chopra: Bhuvneshwar, Pandya need to do more (1:58)

Aakash Chopra on the areas India will want to improve on ahead of the series against England (1:58)

Big picture

There were two particular things in evidence in the first T20I. The more obvious of them was India's complete difference in class to their opponents Ireland. At no point, other than when catches were being dropped in both innings, did the match come close to being a contest.

The second visible feature was that India were definitely in the game to experiment. The inclusions of Suresh Raina and Manish Pandey, at the expense of Dinesh Karthik - who single-handedly won them their last T20I - was the first sign of that. Sending Raina up at No. 3 (he was the only batsman other than the openers padded up during the national anthem) instead of at No. 4, that big batting void of India's across limited-overs formats, all but confirmed this. And with only one game before the England series, we might see this experimental trend extend. Virat Kohli said at the toss that India were trying to get used to the "cool winds" in this part of the world, and more of their players might be given a chance to do that, particularly those who will be sticking around for all of India's tour of the UK.

Ireland weren't above experimenting either. It is, after all, the time for their next generation to take over. James Shannon and Simi Singh were offered significant batting roles and that isn't likely to change any time soon. With top-quality cricket hard to come by as the cricket world debates inclusion, they're likely to treat this game like India would - a practice match. Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar, expected to be at the game on Friday, will have to settle for that.

Form guide

Ireland LTWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
India WWWWW

In the spotlight

KL Rahul is likely to get a shot at the opening position on Friday and it won't feel any different than all the other times he's played for India. There will remain a sense that he has to score big just to keep his place in the XI. At least among his fans. Rahul himself is no longer obsessed with perfection in the shorter formats, a reality brought about by a sensational last IPL season. More assured, more mature, the spotlight may finally be what he uses to make runs, rather than score points.

After a superb season playing ODIs in India against Afghanistan last year, Andy Balbirnie's stature as Ireland's middle-order mainstay had grown. But he hasn't been able to bring that reputation to bear in T20Is. Mind you, he did make 74 just a few innings ago in the tri-series in the Netherlands, but in nine other innings, Balbirnie has only 98 runs to his name.

Team news

Unless they're tempted to bring in fast bowler Joshua Little, Ireland are expected to play the same XI.

Ireland (probable) 1 Paul Stirling, 2 William Porterfield, 3 Andy Balbirnie, 4 Simi Singh, 5 Gary Wilson (capt), 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Stuart Thompson, 8 Stuart Poynter (wk), 9 George Dockrell, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 Joshua Little

Kohli made no secret of the fact that India will be looking to rotate their squad around. This could mean wholesale changes in all departments. Rohit Sharma is expected to sit out.

India (probable) 1 KL Rahul, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Suresh Raina, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Manish Pandey/Dinesh Karthik, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Umesh Yadav, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah/Siddarth Kaul

Pitch conditions

There is no change expected in the pitch or conditions. It continues to be a high for Ireland, in terms of weather, and the flat pitch is expected to stay as dry as it did throughout the opening game.

Stats and trivia

  • Shikhar Dhawan is 42 runs away from becoming the sixth Indian to 1,000 T20I runs.

  • Since June 2010, Suresh Raina has made only international fifty in this format.

Quotes

'We've already announced we will experiment with the middle order a lot. Even in the next few T20 games, even in England, we will look to throw in guys and surprise the opposition. It presents an opportunity for those lower down the order to go in and bat at the top. In the next games, we will play the guys who didn't play today.'
India captain Virat Kohli had nothing to hide after the first game

"We don't have to get ourselves up for anything. Playing in front of 9000 people in Malahide on days like this against the best T20 side probably in the world - if you cannot get up for that you cannot get up for anything else. We have got ourselves down but we will be back up Friday."
Gary Wilson, Ireland captain, asks his men to be brave and ready