Unchanged England bowl first; T Natarajan replaces KL Rahul

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Ishan Kishan stays in the sidelines as both captains said they would’ve liked to chase at the toss

Toss England opt to bowl vs India

England have won the toss and chosen to bowl first in the fifth and deciding T20I against India in Ahmedabad. The visitors are unchanged while the hosts have dropped opener KL Rahul for fast bowler T Natarajan, with Virat Kohli saying he would open the batting instead.

Kohli said the change was prompted by a desire to “bring in a good balance with bat and ball”. In Rahul’s absence – he has made 1, 0, 0, and 14 this series – Kohli will open with Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav, who impressed with a half-century in his second T20I on Thursday, at No. 3. Kishan, who missed the last match with a groin problem, remains on the sidelines.

Kohli admitted he would have opted to chase also, had he won the toss. The fourth match was the only one so far this series won by the team batting first.

For both sides, a crucial element of their preparations for the T20 World Cup, to be held in India in October, all come down to this, a must-win match between the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in the world and England were particularly vocal in welcoming the challenge of breaking a 2-2 series deadlock ahead of the global showcase.

Either way, a proud unbeaten series record will be broken for someone in this match, with England having won seven and drawn one of their last eight T20I series, going back to their last tour of India in 2018, while the hosts have won six and drawn one of their last seven T20I series since Australia’s victory in February 2019

The pitch will be the same one used for the second match of the series, won by India last Saturday when Kishan and Kohli made light work of the 165 target. Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach, said on match eve that water had been added to the surface and the cracks had sealed back up. He didn’t expect it to be as slow and low as it was when batting first in that match.

India:: 1 Virat Kohli (capt), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Washington Sundar 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 T Natarajan.

England: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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