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India eye improved performance to avoid T20I series defeat

India will be eager to produce a much improved performance to avoid a Twenty20 International (T20I) cricket series loss against England in the second of the three-match rubber here on Sunday.

India were comprehensively beaten by seven wickets in the first T20I match at Kanpur. Their famed batting line-up, spearheaded by skipper Virat Kohli who opened the innings, failed to get going and could only manage to post 147/7 after being sent in to bat.

They lost wickets at regular intervals, failing to get any momentum in their innings. Kohli (29), recalled veteran Suresh Raina (34) and former skipper M.S.Dhoni (36) were the only batsmen to get starts but were unable to capitalise.

Not only the senior batsmen, newer players like opener K.L. Rahul (8), middle-order bat Manish Pandey (3), all-rounder Hardik Pandya (9) all got dismissed cheaply, squandering the chance to rise to the occasion.

England reached the target comfortably with 11 balls to spare, losing only three wickets.

India are likely to persist with Kohli opening the batting. But they may re-look their team combination with pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh and seasoned leg-spinner Amit Mishra considered for selection.

Rising wicketkeeper-batsman Rishab Pant has also a fair chance of being named in the playing XI, having impressed with his destructive batting abilities in a 50-over practice game against England earlier in Mumbai.

Bhuvneshwar may take the place of an expensive Jasprit Murah, who was heavily punished by England batsmen at Kanpur. Veteran speedster Ashish Nehra wasn’t in rhythm either in his comeback match to international cricket post-surgery.

England pacers did most of the damage at Kanpur. They bowled just short of length, denying the big-hitting Indian batsmen room to free their arms. All the five bowlers used by Captain Eoin Morgan claimed wickets.

England would be confident of their prospects at Nagpur’s VDCA stadium, having defeated India in a World Twenty20 Championship match last year when the hosts were captained by Dhoni. They are likely to name Kanpur’s winning XI.

Morgan himself is in good form, guiding the team to a win at Kanpur with a crucial 51-run innings. He also scored a century (102) in the One-Day series, which his team lost 1-2.

Morgan got able company at Kanpur in Joe Root (46). They have enough firepower in their batting to punish any bowling line-up and exhibited it in the first match.

The absence of India’s premier spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, both rested for the series by India, has been to their advantage though they exhibited vulnerability against leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal at Kanpur.

The squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Parvez Rasool, Ashish Nehra, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mandeep Singh, Rishab Pant, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Amit Mishra.

England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Tymal Mills, Jonathan Bairstow, Jake Ball, Liam Dawson and David Willey.

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