India vs England 4th T20I: Toss, selection calls crucial in must-win game for Kohli army

Trailing 1-2 in the five-match series, India skipper Virat Kohli will hope to call correctly and bat second in the fourth T20 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

A dejected Virat Kohli walks back along with the teammates after England hammered India in the third T20I in Ahmedabad.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Much was made about the importance of winning the toss and batting first in the preceding Test series, but as it turns out, the spin of the coin has played an equally vital role in the T20Is. Only this time, opting to field has been the preferred option, leading to easy victories for the chasing side in all three outings so far.

Trailing 1-2 in the five-match series, India skipper Virat Kohli will hope to call correctly and bat second in the fourth T20 here on Thursday.

A combination of factors have contributed to this trend. On the slow Narendra Modi Stadium pitches, the early overs have offered an awkward, sticky bounce. This has forced normally attacking batsmen to bide their time in order to come to grips with the surface.

In the first and third T20Is, India’s task was made that much harder by the brilliance of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. Both England pacers have been rapid, touching the 150 kmph mark, while generating steep bounce from short of length. They have attacked the stumps as well, evidenced by Wood cleaning up K.L. Rahul with a terrific in-dipper on
Tuesday, and when Wood and Archer hit timber to send back Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul respectively in the first outing.

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Restricted to measly returns in the Powerplay - 22/3 in the first T20I and 24/3 in the third T20I - India was forced to play catch up.

In general, England captain Eoin Morgan has preferred to chase, a sentiment echoed by team-mate Jos Buttler. “In T20 cricket in general, there seems to be a trend where batting second is advantageous," Buttler said, after his unbeaten 83.

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Buttler was perhaps referring to the clarity of thought when hunting a fixed target, as opposed to spending time to assess a good total when batting first. The dew factor in day-night matches - which leads to bowlers facing difficulty in gripping the ball - also sways the argument in favour of chasing.

India, meanwhile, has some selection questions to answer. Will Suryakumar Yadav - left out for the third T20I despite not getting a chance to bat in his international debut on Sunday - be given another chance to prove his worth? And what of Rahul, who has scored only one run in the series so far. If Rahul is dropped, Ishan Kishan could move up from one-drop to opener - a spot where he tasted great success in the second T20I.

The squads:

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur.

England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.

Match starts at 7 p.m.

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