Eoin Morgan needs no reminding the importance of chasing a target in limited-over cricket. So, should England get lucky with the coin on Thursday afternoon here at the Green Park Stadium, India will be asked to bat first.
“It sits really nicely with batting teams, having to chase. The level of skills batsmen have shown, the improvement dealing with levels of risk and finding boundaries means batting units, or teams in general, are quite comfortable knowing what their target is. The unease of posting a score, or knowing what a good score, is becoming more and more difficult,” said Morgan on the eve of the first Twenty20 match.
Talking about gaining confidence and momentum, Morgan said, “I think confidence is a big word in T20 cricket. At the moment, the guys are feeling lot more confident than they maybe were after Game Two (of ODI series). Having had a win under our belt, we’re looking forward to the series in what could potentially be very exciting.”
Morgan confirmed that David Willey would miss the opener due to a shoulder injury but Joe Root was fit play.
“David flew in yesterday, missed practice in the morning and he won’t be fit for selection. Nothing serious showed up on the scan, which is a huge positive because initially, it looked quite painful. Joe has recovered really well and fit for this game. It was just a niggle and a risk we didn’t feel we needed to take given it was a bit of a ‘dead’ rubber (at Eden Gardens).”
England beat India by five runs at the Eden Gardens in the third and final ODI for its first win on the tour.
Looking ahead at the Champions Trophy in June in England, Morgan was asked about the relevance of the T20 series here.
“Yes it is (relevant). The group is very similar. Going from the series we have just played where bowlers have found it difficult honing specific skills going into T20 cricket can be relevant. We don’t know where the fifty-over game is going,” said Morgan.
“There might be periods in games where we just go to yorkers because that might work on a particular ground. So improving your skills to be able to do that might help the guys in the long run,” he said.
“Winning is priority. Part and parcel of winning is improving skills along the way, or at least winning one half of the game, winning your bowling or your batting. In the ODI series we haven’t really put up a complete performance. Our guys aren’t really experienced either, we came here with a hugely inexperienced T20 team and got to the final (World T20). So the attitude and desire isn’t a problem, it’s just tying the skills together.”
Morgan said there was no need for England to specifically groom T20 specialists. The team’s sole T20 specialist is left-arm pacer Tymal Mills, who plays leagues all around the world and is hoping to be picked in the upcoming IPL auction.
“No, I don’t think so. We are beyond that (grooming T20 specialists). Yes, 50 over and 20 over cricket are similar and probably more alike. It will happen naturally but it will be the difference between being a Test player and white ball player. We have one guy (Mills) who is, but that’s because of his injury problems,” said Morgan.
The preceding ODI series, which India won 2-1, was a high scoring one with teams scoring well over 300.
Asked whether the 50-over format is now faster due to explosion of T20 cricket the world over, Morgan said: “Maybe, the rules changed to an extra man in the circle and it sort of nullified what people called the ‘boring period’ where you run the ball around for four-six runs an over because of the extra man back. They are still different but trying to compare the two? You can in short spurts.
“What we’re seeing is 50 over team is almost identical to T20 team. The same risk level and skill level you have to show in both forms is pretty evident. Around the 2015 World Cup you might have had three or four changes between the two groups.
You might have had specialist T20 players coming in but we only really have one or two now,” explained Morgan.
Talking about the IPL, Morgan said the performance in this T20 series might help some of the English cricketers land a lucrative contract.
“The IPL auction can be unpredictable. The positive our guys have is they have put in good performances over a number of years. These three games, whether they shoot the lights out or not, in the lead up to the auction it probably helps guys who haven’t been as consistent as your top performers, guys like Ben Stokes. If he doesn’t have three great games it doesn’t mean he’s not going to get picked up,” the England captain said.
“But it is an opportunity for guys who potentially might have been fifth on the list for franchises to be elevated to third or fourth. And that’s a massive opportunity,” he added.
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