Their supremacy restored after a rare blip, India will go for the kill even as an angry England alight at the Garden City with fire in their bellies, setting the stage for a tantalising series-deciding third and final Twenty20 International in Bangalore on Wednesday.
A 4-0 triumph in a five-match Test rubber was followed by a 2-1 win in Virat Kohli’s maiden assignment as full-time ODI skipper. He would look to translate that result into the shortest format also and conclude what has so far been a hugely successful winter on a high.
Trailing 0-1 heading into the second T20 game in Nagpur, India were helped by a terrific display of death bowling by young Jasprit Bumrah, and an umpiring howler, in staging a fightback in the three-match series.
The defeat in the last game from an impregnable winning position has left England skipper Eoin Morgan “extremely frustrated”, and he would desperately want his team to leave the Indian shore with something to cheer about.
While Bumrah’s was a performance worthy of winning any game, having conceded a measly five runs in overs 18 and 20 when batsmen normally go hammer and tongs, umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin’s wrong decision against Joe Root at a crucial juncture stood out like a sore thumb, prompting the England management to take up the case with the ICC.
Replays showed that not only was the ball heading down the leg side, but Root had got a thick edge on it as it thudded into his thigh pad.
However, while England may be raring to make amends after throwing it away, it will be a humongous task to get the better of an opponent brimming with confidence. They may have displayed fighting abilities and also won the opening game, but the hosts will still have their nose ahead at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Kohli, unbeaten as captain series-wise at home in all formats of the game, will be too happy to add another silverware to his cabinet at a venue where India have fond memories — they knocked out Bangladesh from the World T20 by one run last year.
There remains, though, areas India would like to improve further.
At Nagpur, it was the clever bowling by Chris Jordan, Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills, backed up by England’s excellent fielding, which stifled India.
Kohli and coach Anil Kumble would sit down and find an answer to the pace trio who have, time and again, outfoxed the batsmen with well-disguised slower deliveries and dried up boundaries.
India’s batting stalwarts — Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina — would be eager to get going and put up a formidable score against an English side that bats deep.
KL Rahul’s confidence will be high as he stood out with a breezy 71 on a difficult surface, where his teammates struggled.
Rahul propped up the Indian innings with some crisp hitting, which included six boundaries and a couple of sixes.
Kohli has the option of making a few changes, though it would be a gamble to blood in an exciting young talent like Rishab Pant, who hogged the limelight with his aggressive batting in the 50-over warm-up match against England at Mumbai.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is another player, who has been warming the reserves’ bench for the last two matches and could be drafted into the XI, depending on the nature of the pitch, which the curator says is full of runs.
This will be the first international match here after the ground underwent a massive revamp.
In a first, the Karnataka State Cricket Association recently unveiled the Rs 4.5 crore-valued next-generation subsurface aeration and vacuum-powered drainage system, which quickly removes standing water — 36 times faster than drainage, virtually eliminating the need for extended game delays or cancellations due to wet outfield conditions.
The system has been used at some of the best stadiums worldwide including Wembley (UK), New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, BMO Field (Canada), Etihad Stadium (Manchester City) etc, and has over 500 installations. It has also been used for NFL, 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Coming back to cricket, Ashish Nehra with the new ball and Bumrah with the old, would like to fire again after a good outing in the previous match.
For England, Morgan has been in good form from the start of the limited overs series and his sequence of scores read 28, 102, 43 and 51.