Match Preview – India vs England, England tour of India 2020/21, 5th T20I

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Here we go then, this is the contest that makes all the agonies and frustrations of recent months worthwhile. In the midst of a pandemic, we’ve got a treat in store. The world’s top-two ranked teams going head to head in a contest that, to judge by the ding-dong battle we’ve enjoyed so far this series, could yet be a full dress rehearsal for the T20 World Cup final in just over six months’ time.

The only pity is that there will be no crowd present to create the full bear-pit atmosphere that this contest deserves. There were 66,000 spectators present to watch India’s series-leveller in game two, before the gates were slammed shut once again due to Gujarat’s surge in Covid cases – and all the signs point to a similar arrangement when the ODIs begin in Pune next week. But in keeping with the impressive intensity that cricket at all levels has managed in this lock-down era, there will be no let-up on either side when the teams stride out to the middle on Saturday.

Eoin Morgan was granted his full-strength squad for this series, to the chagrin of those who believe that England’s prospects in last month’s Test series were compromised as a consequence. But he has consistently stressed the need for his team to learn their lessons fast before the mad schedule of the English summer pulls his star players in every direction. And so, while he would no doubt have been delighted to wrap up the series with a better showing in match four, it’s not simply a case of putting on a brave face when he says he is relishing this chance to road-test his troops in their highest-stakes contest since 2019.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1255754.html?CMP=OTC-RSS