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5th T20I: Buoyant India look to seal series

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Ahmedabad, March 19 (IANS) India will look to build on the confidence they gained in defending a target in the fourth T20I and win the fifth and final match at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Saturday to clinch the series.

The hosts have levelled the series from a match down twice. They lost the first and the third matches, but won the second and fourth matches. The latest victory on Thursday came while defending a target of 186 runs.

The first three matches went in favour of teams chasing and it seemed like England would win Thursday’s game when they put India in and got the early wicket of Rohit Sharma. However, Suryakumar Yadav, playing his first innings in international cricket, hit a quick half-century to put India on track.

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In each of India’s wins, one of the two Mumbai Indians’ stars — Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar, has clicked with the big-hitting and caught England by surprise.

The pitch given for the fourth T20I was a black soil surface, which had lesser pace than the one used for the third T20I. The pitch for the final match is also likely to be a black soil wicket and could see plenty of runs.

Captain Virat Kohli had praised the surface dished out for the fourth match. “The pitch was better than any other game,” said Kohli after the game.

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India’s fast bowlers’ change in pace has played a crucial role in both their wins. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur made use of it to trouble the hard-hitting English batsmen.

In the second T20I, the change in pace helped India keep England to a below-par total batting first. In the fourth T20I, when England, powered by Ben Stokes’s big-hitting, looked set to chase a massive target, change in pace again brought India back into the game.

For England, the key has been keeping the Indian top-order at bay in both matches they have won. However, their bowlers have faltered whenever someone from the top order like Kishan or a Suryakumar has clicked.

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A big focus will be on opener KL Rahul, who has failed to get big scores in the series. After scores of 1,0,0 in the first three games, the right hander managed a 17-ball 14 in the fourth match.

India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T. Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.

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

–IANS

kh/rkm

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