Eoin Morgan: England's 'weaknesses exposed' as India take them out of comfort zone
Captain relishes opportunity to learn the hard way in lead-up to T20 World Cup
Eoin Morgan said that he was pleased to have had the opportunity to play on a pitch that took England "out of our comfort zone" with both bat and ball in the second T20I in Ahmedabad, and that he expects another unfamiliar surface in the third game of the series on Tuesday.
England struggled with the ball in their attempts to defend 164 on a pitch that offered less for their fast bowlers that the one used in Friday's series opener. Morgan said that the surface was a "typical Indian wicket" that "exposed our weakness" and reiterated his comments before the series, when he had expressed a desire to play in different conditions ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
"It was quite slow, low, and didn't really turn a great deal - [a pitch] that does expose our weakness," Morgan said. "We don't play a lot on slow, low wickets and the more that we can do that, the better. Posting a total on a wicket like that, I thought we were right in the game… we established partnerships, we got to the point where we tried to accelerate, but managed to lose wickets at different stages.
"Taking an early wicket was brilliant but India managed to get away from us quite quickly. Ishan Kishan played pretty well and managed to take the game away from us, and everything that we tried didn't seem to work.
"I thought the other night, the pitch really suited us because it had more pace in it - similar to a wicket at home, a Cardiff wicket or somewhere like that, that was a little bit uneven and maybe stood up a little bit. But this took us out of our comfort zone and really was a typical Indian wicket that we would play on in an IPL game. Again, your accuracy has to be on, and you're bowling to guys really on their home patch when you talk about a wicket like this.
"To become better in these conditions, the only way you do that is by playing and making mistakes. You tend to learn quicker if you're winning and confident and everything goes reasonably smoothly - you can integrate the learning quite quickly - but equally, if we have to learn the hard way, we're still going through that process of trying to learn game-on-game so when it comes to the World Cup in seven months' time, we can be as best prepared or know more about ourselves and where we need to get better before then."
Morgan emphasised the importance of batsmen taking on the right match-ups on pitches that are harder to bat on, and stressed that he had no issues with any of his side getting out while taking an attacking option against a bowler-type that they are generally strong against - much as both Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow did in holing out to deep midwicket against the offspin of Washington Sundar.
"Particularly when it comes to batting, the biggest sixes guys hit are when it looks like they've put no effort into it, so maintaining your shape when you're hitting the ball [is important]," he said. "Attacking a bowler that you know you've got an advantage with, or you play that type of bowler really well - things like that, trying to improve positions that we get into, and when we do get into a position, taking advantage of it.
"Most players should know their game inside-out - where they struggle and where they're strong. It's when they're strong against whoever, it's taking that option and not hesitating in doing it. If you get out doing it, you're taking the right option."
The third T20I will be played on a red-soil pitch rather than a black-soil one, which is likely to bring spinners into the game much more than the surfaces for the first two matches of the series. As a result, England are likely to bring Moeen Ali into the side, with Tom Curran the most likely man to give way after an expensive showing on Sunday night.
"The next game is on the red soil that looks like Ayers Rock so it's probably going to turn," Morgan said. "These are the challenges that we want to play against. Regardless of how we do in the series we want to learn as much as we can and get that experience under our belt for the World Cup.
"Because we're playing on a different type of soil, on the red soil not the black soil, there's a chance that it might take more spin which probably lends itself to batting first if it doesn't hold as well together as the black soil, which traditionally it doesn't. It might lend itself to posting a total because the wicket might get worse.
"The two wickets we've played on have not turned. We looked at them and didn't expect them to turn, but potentially, the next game might offer a little bit for the spinners."
Mark Wood missed the second T20I with a bruised heel, but Morgan said the injury was "not a big worry". "He felt better again today but not fit enough to play," Morgan said. "Hopefully he'll be available for the game in two days' time, but if not, the fourth match."
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98