India v England: Big prize in Eoin Morgan’s sights as Joe Root returns to fold

BACK IN THE FOLD: Yorkshire's Joe Root returns for England's T20 clash against India on Thursday.
BACK IN THE FOLD: Yorkshire's Joe Root returns for England's T20 clash against India on Thursday.
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England may be moving on from 50-over cricket to Twenty20 in Kanpur but captain Eoin Morgan still has his eyes on the prize that is the Champions Trophy.

The primary focus of the national side for the first half of the year is coming out victorious on home soil when the world’s top eight one-day international sides do battle in June.

England's cricketers warm up during a practice session in Kanpur on Wednesday. Picture: AP/Altaf Qadri.

England's cricketers warm up during a practice session in Kanpur on Wednesday. Picture: AP/Altaf Qadri.

That makes a three-match T20 series to conclude the tour of India slightly incongruous but it is hardly the most worrying or egregious quirk of the sport’s baffling calendar.

And Morgan, for one, believes the games can still be important preparation for the Champions Trophy as methods, tactics and personnel increasingly leach between the limited-overs formats.

Only two members of the T20 squad – pace pair Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan – were not part of the one-day group and England’s preferred aggressive style now differs little whenever a white-ball is involved.

“What we’re seeing now is your 50-over team being almost identical to your T20 team. The same risk level and skill level you have to show in both forms is pretty evident,” said Morgan.

“Around the 2015 World Cup you might have had three or four changes between the two groups. You might have had specialist T20 players coming in but we only really have one or two now.

“Both formats are similar and probably (getting) more alike. It will happen naturally but the difference will be between being a Test player and a white-ball player.

“Going from the series we’ve just played where bowlers have found it difficult, honing your specific skills into T20 cricket can be relevant.”

England lost the ODI series 2-1 but ended on a high with a five-run win in Kolkata despite the absence of their batting lynchpin Joe Root.

He may have been able to play had the series still been at stake but as it was England were happy to have him rest a minor complaint and give Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow a chance at N0 3.

Root will now return to action but another Yorkshire player – David Willey – who injured his left shoulder while bowling at Eden Gardens, is ruled out.

“Joe has recovered really well, it was just a niggle and a risk we didn’t feel we needed to take given it was a bit of a dead rubber,” said Morgan. “It was also a good opportunity for the guys who’ve sat on the sideline to show the form they’re in. Joe is fit to play.

“David flew in yesterday, missed practice in the morning and he won’t be fit for selection.

“Nothing serious showed up on the scan, which is a huge positive because it looked quite painful.”

England surprised everyone when they last played the shortest format in India, entering the World Twenty20 as underdogs but making it all the way to the final before being dramatically beaten by the West Indies.

They are more experienced and more imbued with self-belief since then and Morgan is feeling good about his team’s prospects.

“I think confidence is the big word in T20 cricket, confidence and momentum. At the moment the guys are feeling a lot more confident than they maybe were after game two (of the previous series),” he said.

“Having had a win under our belt we’re looking forward to a three-match series in what could potentially be very exciting. It’s a great place to play T20 cricket so everybody is looking forward to it.

“We came here last year with a hugely inexperienced T20 team and got to the final, so the attitude and desire isn’t a problem it’s just tying the skills together.”

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