The India cricket team is scheduled to have a 2-match series against two English counties, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, in order to acclimate its players to the playing conditions in England. The game with Derbyshire will be held on Friday, while the one with Northamptonshire will be on Sunday.
India and England, currently first and second in the T20I rankings, will be playing against each other in the T20I series starting on July 7. India won all matches in its previous T20I series against Ireland. Likewise, England also defeated New Zealand in their last T20I game by 7 wickets.
Derbyshire and Northamptonshire's track record this year
Derbyshire and Northamptonshire have performed better than expected during the Vitality Blast this season. Derbyshire ranks third, while Northamptonshire places fifth in the 9-team North Group. The Derbyshire team even has a chance to qualify for the quarter-finals if they win against Durham.
Derbyshire performed rather poorly in T20 before this season. The team only managed to get into the semi-finals once. However, they have improved significantly since South African-Australian former cricketer Mickey Arthur became their coach, and now Shan Masood leads the team and records the highest runs with 516. The team also has several other promising players this season. Leus du Plooy, for example, offered great support for his team in the middle order. Mattie McKiernan, the bowler, also becomes a key player in middle overs.
Hilton Cartwright, a Derbyshire's batter, expressed anticipation over the upcoming series. He acknowledged that the India team is "the benchmark of international cricket in pretty much all formats". He stated that it is challenging for his team to face them.
Northamptonshire has struggled in the past five years in the T20I category. The team won the trophy in 2013 and 2016 but barely made any groundbreaking records after that.
Despite that, this year, the team introduced some talented players. Josh Cobb, Northamptonshire's captain, showed outstanding performance in the Blast. Chris Lynn and James Neesham are their most talked-about players this season, although it was confirmed they wouldn't be joining the warm-up. Several young players, including Saif Zaib and Ben Curran, also provide strong support in the middle.
India team in the T20I
As the top team on the list, India has shown bold performance so far in the T20I category. However, the team experienced some unfortunate events in their previous matches.
Rohit Sharma, the captain, contracted COVID-19 and had to pull out from the team. Mayank Argawal had to replace him in the last T20I match, with Hardik Pandya taking over the captain position for a while. In the T20I series against Ireland, they also replaced three players, including Rahul Tripathi and Venkatesh Iyer.
Despite the odds, the team pulled through and even showed a magnificent, never-seen-before performance. The combination of Deepak Hooda and Sanju Samson scored 176 runs with 65 balls, the country's highest record in T20Is. Hooda also recorded his first century during his T20I career.
India will split into two teams to face the upcoming matches. One team will play in the warm-up, and another team will face England in a rescheduled fifth Test in Birmingham. The team will regroup for the T20I series with Sharma back as captain.