Brimming with confidence after thrashing England 5-0 in the ODI series, India will look end the series in style by beating the visitors in the one-off Twenty20 International at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.
After a forgettable English summer, during which India were demolished in all forms of the game, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men returned to rule the roost in the home series against the same team.
India dominated in all the departments of the game, with the juniors and seniors doing their bit to humble the Englishmen.
The action will now shifts to the shortest format, when the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 winners lock horns against the reigning champions, who are struggling in Indian conditions.
That they have been installed as the number one Twenty20 side in ICC’s new rankings would hardly make a difference if the Englishmen fail to capitalise on their last chance to restore some pride in India.
But this Indian team is on a mission since returning from the England tour, even as skipper Dhoni insists on not calling it a revenge series.
The ODI World champions had to prove themselves and did it in style by not giving England any chance to fight back. They exposed England’s dreadful record in India, which reads one win from the last 17 matches.
Dhoni, who is yet to be dismissed in this series, has lived up to the role of finisher, amassing 212 unbeaten runs from four innings.
Virat Kohli too has matured as a batsman, shouldering responsibility. The Delhi youngster is India’s leading run-getter in the absence of key players, like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh.
Another star batting performer is Gautam Gambhir, who will miss out on the Twenty20 game because of his marriage.
But that has handed Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa a huge opportunity to make a mark after remaining on the sidelines for three years.
The match will test the skills of Mumbai opener Ajinkya Rahane as a Twenty20 batsman. Having impressed in the one-day series with his technique and temperament, it will be another big chance for the prolific Mumbai run-getter.
Back where he belongs, India will once again look for Yusuf Pathan’s big hits while his statemate Ravindra Jadeja will look to carry on his good showing in the ODIs.
The duo will also come handy with their off-spin and left-arm orthodox, even as Tamil Nadu off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will lead the slow attack.
Ashwin (10) and Jadeja (11) shared 21 wickets between them from five one-dayers and will be itching to make their presence felt on the slow-looking Eden track.
Touted as India’s fastest, Varun Aaron impressed in his two outings in the one-dayers and it remains to be seen if Dhoni tests the mettle of his statemate alongside pace spearhead Praveen Kumar.
With no Eoin Morgan, the number one Twenty20 batsman in the world rankings, the English side is depleted, as it will also miss regular skipper Stuart Broad. Off-spinner Graeme Swann will captain the side.
That their star batsman Kevin Pietersen nurses a fractured left thumb makes matters worse for the English think-tank.
In the absence of Morgan, who was ruled out of the series because of an injury, wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter will look to give England a blistering start.
The Somerset opener had a fine stint in India in the recently-concluded Champions League Twenty20. With no Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara should lend stability to the side which also has Twenty20 specialist Alex Hales and Jos Buttler.
Lanky pacer Steven Finn was a revelation for England in the series, and, along with Tim Bresnan, will once again lead their pace battery that also has Stuart Meaker.