If there wasn’t enough crunch sporting action involving England this weekend, now there is more. This T20 series has a decider after Alex Hales levelled things up at 1-1 by keeping calm in Cardiff as the chase became a little dicey.
Both teams are well set up for chasing, so that is likely to be the favoured route in Bristol. England learnt from most of their mistakes at Old Trafford to ensure India’s spinners had much less of an impact in Cardiff. It also helped they knew their target – which wasn’t overly demanding – and didn’t have to use all-out aggression against the spinners.
India did well to push the match into the final over – and with England needing 20 off two overs, then 12 off the last would have still fancied their chances – but their poor start with the bat ultimately cost them after losing three wickets in the Powerplay. It wasn’t until the final over of the innings from Jake Ball, which cost 22, that they really got away from England.
It is still very early in this long tour and whoever wins this series will probably not be what is remembered come early September, but there are early bragging rights on offer with the victors also getting reassurance that they are heading along the right path towards the next global event in 2020.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Ben Stokes is available again after the hamstring injury which has ruled him out of England action since the first Test against Pakistan in May. It creates a selection dilemma. How does he fit back in the side? It is unlikely he would be selected as one of five bowlers, so that leaves one of the batsmen vulnerable. Hales keeps making runs, Jonny Bairstow looks in terrific nick even down the order as does Jason Roy at the top while Eoin Morgan is captain. On form, Joe Root could be the one to miss out but before the series Paul Farbrace said he was a certainty for the T20 side. Something has to give, or is it a case that Stokes doesn’t come straight back?
Shikhar Dhawan has missed out twice in the series – bowled by David Willey at Old Trafford and then run out in slightly comical fashion in Cardiff when he dropped his bat then couldn’t get his foot grounded across the crease in time. Even before his dismissal he had struggled for momentum, striking at less than a run-a-ball against some tight England pace bowling. He’ll be keen to find his groove before the ODIs. He also needs 28 runs for 1000 in T20Is
There’s the Stokes question for England (see above) and if he was to return as one of six bowlers it could open the way for a second spinner again, after Moeen Ali was left out in Cardiff. However, that would appear unlikely given the effectiveness of England’s quicks for the majority of the innings on Friday evening.
England (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Alex Hales, 4 Joe Root/Ben Stokes, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Jonny Bairstow, 7 David Willey, 8 Liam Plunkett, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Jake Ball
India could consider increasing their spin options by including the uncapped Krunal Pandya, who bowls left-arm spin, at the expense of Suresh Raina.
India (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 KL Rahul, 4, Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Umesh Yadav
Pitch and conditions
There was more grass on the surface in Cardiff than had been the case at Old Trafford and England will be keen for similar in Bristol if the weather allows. There are short, straight boundaries which can make it a challenge for spinners. It is set to be a hot, sunny afternoon.
Stats and trivia
There have been just two previous T20Is at this ground, the most recent of which was back in 2011
David Willey’s 1 for 18 in Cardiff was his most economical four-over spell in T20Is
“He’s played a lot for us – he’s one of our highest run-scorers, a very experienced campaigner. An innings like that tonight makes him a pretty strong case for the next game.”
Eoin Morgan on Alex Hales
“Kuldeep [Yadav] bowled really well in the last game – but in this one, they played him more carefully. They chose which delivery they wanted to play or not play.”
Yuzvendra Chahal on England learning from their mistakes