Having taken a 1-0 lead in the series courtesy a comprehensive eight-wicket win in the T20 series opener at Manchester, the Indians will come into Friday’s clash high on confidence.
KL Rahul’s unbeaten 101 in that win means that the Karnataka batsman has very much cemented his spot in India’s limited-overs setup after being constantly in and out of the side in the last season.
While Kohli had spoken about experimenting with middle-order combinations during the England tour, Rahul’s tremendous form may have solved most of his problems.
The India skipper dropped down to the No4 spot in the first T20 to allow Rahul to flourish at one down and it will not be surprising to see India play with the same batting order on Friday.
In the bowling department, Bhuvneshwar should share India’s new-ball attack with the impressive Umesh Yadav despite having a rare off-day at Old Trafford. Wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be India’s biggest weapons with Hardik Pandya occupying the all-rounder’s slot.
For hosts England, a change in batting order is likely. With Kuldeep running through the middle order in Manchester, Eoin Morgan could be tempted to drop down Jos Buttler in the middle-order to deal with the threat posed by India’s wrist spinners.
Alex Hales was off-colour in Manchester and he could be another batsman whose batting position could change with Joe Root or Jonny Bairstow moving up the order.
ENGLAND: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Alex Hales, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett
INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
Ambati Rayudu might have seen his recall to the India team fall away in a cruel manner after he failed the Yo-Yo fitness test but the batsman remains focused on working his way back into the national team set-up.
The Chennai Super Kings batsman was handed another chance in the India ODI side for the tour of England after his exemplary performances with the bat for the IPL champions. However, his failure to clear the Yo-Yo test at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru cost him dear, with his CSK team-mate Suresh Raina taking his place in the squad.
Despite that setback, Rayudu is not giving up on his dreams of returning to the Indian side for the first time since 2016.
“Of course, I have not yet given up hope of playing for India. The dream of playing for India very much remains. I have been working on my game,” Rayudu was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
“I hope to take the test again in the coming days and hope to clear it,” he added.
Rayudu, who scored 602 runs for Chennai in the IPL this year at an average of 43, thanked the franchise for their belief in him.
“The franchise made me feel at home. The environment in the team, the warmth of fans, atmosphere and the team management propelled us to give our best. I must thank every player. I am happy that I could experience that feeling. I could express myself. We were in a very good space mentally and that really helps. I hope to do better next season,” he said.
While Rayudu deals with his axing, Raina will be hoping to stake his claim for a permanent ODI role in the three-match series to come against England.
Kohli is just eight runs shy of the landmark that has only been attained by three batsmen in T20 Internationals history. New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum was the first to get to the mark, followed by his compatriot Martin Guptill.
If Kohli attains the feat on Tuesday, he will become the fastest to get to the 2,000-run mark. McCullum is currently the quickest to the mark after taking 66 innings to get there. Guptill took 68 innings to reach the landmark while Malik is the slowest of the three at 92 innings.
Kohli, who has so far played only 55 T20I innings, should easily break that record. He has scored 1, 992 runs in the format at an average of 48.58 and a strike-rate of 137.
Meanwhile, Rohit is 51 runs short of the landmark and he could beat his skipper to the mark given the fact that he plays as an opener. The Mumbai-born batsman has scored 1, 949 runs in the format in 74 innings at an average of 31.43 and a strike-rate of nearly 137.
It will be a straight shootout between the two batsmen as to who becomes the first Indian to get to the mark when the visitors take the field against England on Tuesday.