The only game Parvez Rasool got to play for India was a one-day game, in June, 2014. The message for the off-spinner will be loud and clear as he gears up for his Twenty20 International debut on Thursday in the first game of the series against England.
Rasool will have to fill the shoes of Ravinchandran Ashwin, who has been rested with Ravindra Jadeja for the three-match series starting at the Green Park. The J and K player may even be asked to bowl the first delivery. The bald strip here would provide the 27-year-old the opportunity to show his skill against Eoin Morgan and Co.
England, who were runners-up in the World T20 played in India early last year, hold an edge over the team led by Virat Kohli, having won five of their eight meetings.
The series is also a big opportunity for youngsters in the side. Leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, KL Rahul, Mandeep Singh, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Manish Pandey will also be keen to make a point to the seniors and persuade the selectors to give them a longer stint to settle down in the side as they are the future of India.
Presence of experienced seamer Ashish Nehra, who has been quite successful in this format, would be an added advantage. The 37-year-old was forced into a long layoff following an injury in the final stages of last year’s IPL and made his return only in the warm-up one-dayer against England early this month.
Nehra’s experience will be crucial for the home side, which is targeting a whitewash of England on this tour, after winning the Test and ODI series. A long bowling session by Nehra adjacent to the main strip, especially focusing on yorkers on Tuesday, was watched keenly by everyone.
If the ODI series is anything to go by, the T20s too promise another humdinger. Both sides are blessed with big-hitters, and even a 200-run target on this wicket doesn’t look impossible for the side batting second. The bowlers though will hold their breath as everyone has conceded plenty of runs in the batsmen-dominated limited-overs series so far.
A whopping 2,090 runs were scored in the three ODIs, and slogging in the T20 series opener from both sides would be the key attraction for fans, who are expected to come in a huge number on a pleasant Thursday evening with forecast for a clear sky.
It will be a toss up between young Rishabh Pant, whose explosive batting was a highlight of the just-ended domestic season, and Mandeep Singh for the slot of second opener to partner KL Rahul.
Rahul hit a century against West Indies in the first T20 tie played in the US last August. Everyone will be hoping for a similar batting treat from him on Thursday, especially after he failed to click in the ODIs.
MS Dhoni, who has been relieved of captaincy, local boy Suresh Raina and re-born Yuvraj Singh too would be looking for another feast of runs, to make sure England don’t head home proud they at least won the T20 series.