With this year’s T20 World Cup set to be held in India, the upcoming IPL has an extra edge to it: can players set to headline the global tournament get to grips with the conditions that will be on offer?
England are one of the favourites for the tournament, and with a host of their short-form regulars set to feature in the IPL, we’ve examined what the No.1 T20I side’s management should be hoping for over the next few weeks.
For Ben Stokes to gain middle-order experience
Ben Stokes’ position in England’s batting line-up has been much debated, with the England all-rounder still finding his feet as a middle-order option in T20 cricket. In the IPL he has looked best suited in the top order and it seems likely that that is where he’ll bat for Rajasthan Royals, having scored a match-winning century against Mumbai Indians as an opener last year. Yet England have invested in him as a finisher, so you’d imagine that they’ll be hoping to see him perform lower down the order, too.
For Dawid Malan to continue his Indian initiation
While ranked No.1 in the world as a T20I batsman, Malan has continued to invite media scrutiny as England’s No.3 batsman due to his tendency to bide his time at the start of his innings. England’s recent limited-overs series against India was his first taste of competitive cricket in the country and while he had his moments, he was unable replicate the same form he had shown previously for England in South Africa, New Zealand and at home. With a first IPL gig now on his plate with Punjab Kings, Malan acclimatising to Indian surfaces will surely be of benefit to England, especially as Malan faces an uphill battle to get into the Punjab side.
For Chris Jordan to rediscover his mojo
A staple of England’s T20I side and their leading wicket-taker in the format, Jordan has struggled of late: since the start of 2020, Jordan’s 16 wickets in 16 T20I innings have come at an average of 36.56, with his economy rate at 9.58. This pales in comparison to his overall T20I record: 70 wickets at 26.70 with an economy of 8.86. A return to form would be welcome but complications lie with how much game time will be on offer for Jordan with Punjab splashing out the big bucks on the Australian pace duo of Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson.
For Sam Curran and Moeen Ali to play central roles at CSK
Both Curran and Moeen appear to be fighting for one spot in England’s XI at No.7, with Curran in the ascendancy having played eight T20Is on the bounce. Yet England still don’t seem too clear with what they desire from the younger Curran brother, who bowled just 10 overs across five matches in the recent 3-2 series defeat to India. Another full IPL season should offer some more clarity as to which stage of an innings Curran’s bowling could work best for England. With Moeen, England have a cricketer who has spent much of the last year watching on from the bench for both his country and at the previous IPL. Still a key spin-bowling option and handy finisher with the bat, England would be best served by Moeen getting to play some regular cricket for the first time in a while, and that prospect does seem feasible at a franchise rebuilding from a poor 2020 campaign.
For the fringe players to seize their chances
Beyond Moeen, England should also hope for their more fringe squad members to take hold of any chances that come their way. Tom Curran has struggled in both ODI and T20I cricket for a sustained period of time and while he will serve primarily as a back-up in the Delhi Capitals squad, putting in a few impressive performances at his new side would do him and England no harm. Delhi are likely to be without Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada for the start of the tournament, paving a way for Curran and Chris Woakes – who hasn’t played a T20I since 2015 – to get into the XI early in the tournament. Furthermore, with England’s middle order still a slight area of concern, the likes of Sam Billings and Liam Livingstone contributing a few runs – should they get on the field – would help answer questions regarding depth in that department.
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