India are all set to host England in a three-match T20I series for the first time since 2019. The series marks the start of India's packed home season starting on Wednesday, December 6 with all the matches being played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Striving for success in the T20I format
In the shortest format, Team India come out fresh from a gold medal-winning campaign at the Asian Games 2022. Yet India must contend with a dismal home record in T20Is, having won just two of the nine games against England. The last time the team defeated England at home was in March 2018. With just seven victories in 27 games against England, the team's overall record is also cause for concern. India's latest face-off against England in T20Is was in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023 earlier this year, where Heather Knight's side edged past by 11 runs. The last T20I series between the two sides also ended up in England's favor, with India losing 1-2 during their multi-format tour of England.
On the other hand, England would also be looking to get over their home series defeat against Sri Lanka. The hosts lost back-to-back matches, resulting in a 1-2 loss in the three-match series in September this year.
England's struggle against spin
Lately, England have found it difficult to face slow bowlers. This is one of the reasons they fell victim to Sri Lanka in the three-match T20I series back in September. Sri Lankan spinners were easily able to get the better of English batters. In the second T20I, especially, the English batting lineup was dismissed for 104 runs, and eight of their wickets fell courtesy of Sri Lankan spinners.
Harmanpreet Kaur's side will look to take advantage of the current weakness of England as India enter the series with a revamped spin attack and would be spoiled for options in that department. The likes of Deepti Sharma, Saika Ishaque, Minnu Mani, Mannat Kashyap, and the in-form Shreyanka Patil will be counted on throughout the series and expected to make a significant impact.
Players to watch out for - India:
Top run-getter of this fixture with 660 runs, Mandhana scored a half-century the last time the two sides met. After putting in good shifts in The Hundred 2023 in England and the Asian Games 2022 gold-winning campaign, the southpaw would be looking to hit the ground running at the Wankhede stadium.
Earning her maiden India call-up, Patil emerged as the wicket-taker for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Women's Premier League (WPL) 2023. She also picked up 9 wickets in India 'A's victorious Emerging Teams Asia Cup campaign earlier this year and became the first-ever Indian to participate in the Women's Caribbean Premier League, ending the tournament with the most number of wickets. Warming up to the series, Patil continued her impressive run with the ball in the three-match T20 series between India 'A' and England 'A'. The off-spinner's wicket-taking ability coupled with her finishing skills with the bat makes her one of the players to keep an eye on.
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Players to watch out for - England:
The World number one T20I bowler has returned to the pitch after undergoing surgery to realign her shoulder. Ecclestone will be in familiar surroundings as she notched up 16 wickets for UP Warriorz in the inaugural season of WPL earlier this year.
The allrounder has left her mark with the bat with multiple tons in the Ashes ODI series and climbed up to the top of the batting rankings. However, Sciver-Brunt has not been able to emulate the same in T20Is for England. But just like Ecclestone, Sciver-Brunt will be backing herself to deliver at the Wankhede owing to her WPL experience. In Mumbai Indians' title-winning WPL campaign, she picked up 10 wickets, scored 332 runs at a strike rate of 140.08, and bagged the player of the match award in the final.
Grace Scrivens, in an interview with Women's CricZone, revealed that the English players and the management were pleasantly 'surprised' by the quality of pitches at the Wankhede Stadium during the first T20 between India 'A' and England 'A'. Even though the spinners grabbed the highlights, England pacers Lauren Filer, Mahika Gaur, and player of the series Issy Wong did get help from the pitch throughout the three-match series.
Played 27 matches, England 20 - 7 India
Played 9 matches in India, England 7-2 India
Predicted playing XIs:
England: Danni Wyatt, Sophia Dunkley, Alice Capsey, Natalie Sciver-Brunt, Heather Knight (C), Amy Jones (WK), Danielle Gibson, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Bell, Mahika Gaur, Sarah Glenn
India: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Richa Ghosh (WK), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Shreyanka Patil, Titas Sadhu, Renuka Singh Thakur, Saika Ishaque