Down to the Wire for England and India

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England and India have played out a thrilling T20 series to date and with the tourists 2-1 up, its all to play for as the pair prepare to duel in the final two matches.

Dawid Malan is set to star for England

England’s Twenty20 series with India is thankfully proving a lot more competitive than the previous Test encounters between the pair, with Eoin Morgan’s men 2-1 ahead heading into the final two games.

Jos Buttler was at his explosive best in Tuesday’s third T20 in Ahmedabad, bludgeoning an England career-best 83 from 52 balls to steer the tourists to an eight-wicket win. The question now is, can India can hit back on Thursday to set up a thrilling series-decider on Saturday?

Slow and Steady for India

With these two nations currently ranked at one and two in the world when it comes to Twenty20 cricket, it should be no surprise there is little to separate them in the betting.

India are slight favourites to win Thursday’s fourth encounter at 4/5, while England are available at 10/11 to produce a series-clinching victory. The pressure is on the hosts, who responded well after losing the opening game in the series, albeit they were helped by the conditions.

A slower pitch certainly favours Virat Kohli’s men, who have found England’s pace attack tough to handle at times. Mark Wood was their tormentor in chief in the third encounter as he took 3-31, while it was Jofra Archer (3-23) who did plenty of damage in game one.

India’s batsmen can be tough to stop once they get into a groove, as Kohli has shown with his knocks of 73 and 49 in the last two matches. Ishan Kishan also caught the eye on his T20 debut with a score of 56 in game two, but was one who found England’s attack too hot to handle in their most recent encounter. If the pitch does take the edge off the tourist’s short-ball barrage, expect these two to profit with Kohli 9/4 favourite to be India’s top batsman.

A spin-friendly pitch, as it is expected to be at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, should also help India’s bowlers tie down England’s powerful batting line. That said, the T20 Three Lions have shown to be more adaptable to the conditions than some of their Test counterparts.

With both sides packed full of quality, it isn’t easy to pick a winner. India appeal to respond to Tuesday’s loss in a positive fashion but perhaps the best tactic is to wait until the toss, the team having won the toss going on to victory in all three games so far. With captain Morgan winning his 100th IT20 cap, he’ll be looking to get off to a good start.

Rashid and Malan Lead England Charge

Roy and Buttler have rightly taken the headlines for England in the two matches they have won but it could be the turn of the No.1 ranked T20 batsman in the world to come to the fore on Thursday. Dawid Malan has been solid in the series so far with scores of 24, 24 and 18 in is three outings, demonstrating again a good ability to play spin.

At 10/3 to be England’s top batsman, Malan is the same price as Roy and while the opener also holds plenty of appeal, it might pay to go with Malan on a potentially slower wicket.

Sticking with the theme of spin-friendly surfaces and Adil Rashid at 3/1 could prove a shrewd selection as England’s top bowler. As previously mentioned, England’s pace attack has done the majority of the damage in the series to date but Thursday could be Rashid’s time to shine.

He only has two wickets to date from is three outings but one of those was Kohli. The Yorkshireman could have a bigger role to play in game four than just keeping it tight, as has been the case so far.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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