NEW DELHI: The India team is full of confidence. After beating England 3-1 in the Test series, Kohli’s men kick off their T20I campaign with five games against England, which begins today at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. All five games in the series are to be played in the same location.
India and England faced a total of 14 times in T20Is. The head-to-head game is split in the middle, with both teams winning seven games each.
India’s captain Virat Kohli is the most successful batsman in the India-England rivalry at T20Is. The Indian running machine has 346 runs in 12 games averaging 31.45 including half a century. English skipper Eoin Morgan is second on the list with 314 runs in 11 games and an average of 31.40.
In the bowling section, Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal leads the wicket and tops the charts in T20I clashes in India and England. Chahal has taken 9 wickets in 6 games so far, including one with five wickets.
When India was about to start the T20I series with five games, Timesofindia.com caught up with ex-English spinner Monty Panesar to talk about the series’ favorites, major clashes and England’s testing performance. Rishabh Pant‘s spectacular show in tests and much more …
Do you think that after losing in the Test series, England can change the situation and win the T20I series? Your T20 team is very different from your test team in terms of skin color …
England is number 1 in the world in T20Is. The best part is that more than half of the team played in the IPL. So you know the conditions well. England are favorites to win the series. The only concern is their middle order and how they deal with Yuzvendra Chahal, the leg spinner, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar. The series is dominated by nuts. It’s a different format. England will recover strongly.
Who do you think will be the main actor for India and England?
It will be English batsmen against Indian weirdos. The six best Englishmen can take the game from India. England’s top six are stronger than India’s top six. You have Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, and Ben Stokes. For India, Chahal, the leg moth will be vital to India. He’s a smart bowler and has variations. He’s the one who can stop the English batsmen. His four overs will be critical. If India wants to win, it will depend on how the four overs of Chahal go. Chahal has to roll well if India has to win the T20I series.
Yuzvendra Chahal (BCCI photo)
When you have to choose three key player battles in the T20I series, which ones will it be?
I would vote Kohli over Morgan. This will be the fight of all captains. Second, David Malan versus Shikhar Dhawan. This will be an interesting combination. Because Malan is number one in the world. It will be great to see how he does in these conditions and it will be interesting to see. The third will be Moeen Ali or Adil Rashid versus Chahal.
What went wrong in the test series for England?
I think it was because of the crowd introduction that England couldn’t cope with the pressure and noise. You did very well against Sri Lanka and did very well. England won the games when Joe Root scored big runs. So what happens is when Joe Root isn’t making big runs and the team doesn’t know how to win on a turning pitch. England relies entirely on Joe Root for testing. This is something Joe Root, the team, and management need to sit down and think about. “If I don’t get any runs, who will get runs?” Root should think so. You have to work on how to play spinner. Johnny Bairstow was a key player and he didn’t actually perform.
India will now face New Zealand in the final of the Test World Cup. Who do you think is the favorite for the first WTC title?
Both teams are strong and have done very well in tests. This depends on the pitch conditions. If it’s a reversible wicket, it’s India, of course. There is no doubt about that. If it’s flat and seamless, New Zealand has a chance.
Will losing to India affect the English team as they play in the ashes?
England have players who score runs and turn the game upside down. Playing spin is that weakness right now and you should work on it. What is this shot selection? What’s the game plan against bowlers? This will be judged against New Zealand when they come to England. If the same problems arise in England then there is a pretty big problem in my opinion. It doesn’t hurt to get to the basics. I think there is a need for the level 4 and level 3 coaching curriculum as they learn to play spin. If Joe Root can hit like a hitter on a subcontinent, why can’t the others? I think they have to discuss that. I think that’s a problem.
I think the way we learn to play spin has to be the way subcontinental batsmen are taught, how the Indian batsmen are taught in India and that has to be part of the coaching (manual).
Axar and Ashwin single-handedly dismantled the English line-up. Your opinion on this …
Axar is a great bowler, but on helpful terms. He is a skilled bowler and takes wickets on turning areas. Ashwin has done well both domestically and overseas. They were given a platform and used it with their skills, wits and experience.
Axar Patel and R Ashwin (BCCI photo)
How difficult it will be for Axar to keep his place on the test team Ravindra Jadeja returns?
Jadeja is doing well away from India. So there is no doubt about that. I think you should watch Axar’s performance closely. Jadeja is a much better option with the bat. Patel can be a better crank at home and at turning. India can consider Axar at home and if traveling overseas Jadeja should come in.
How would you rate Rishabh Pant’s performance in the test series against England? Is he doing enough to fill Dhoni’s shoes?
Rishabh Pant (BCCI Photo)
I wouldn’t say he’s Dhoni level, I would say he’s more Gilchrist. I think he’s more of a Gilchrist cricketer. Big tournaments like the T20 World Cup and the 50 Over World Cup are coming up. So we have to see how it performs. If India wins the World Cup and Rishabh is a big part of it, compare it to Dhoni. The coming time and tournaments are huge for Rishabh Pant. He is being tested.