Will English white-ball captain Eoin Morgan anticipate a fragrance of win at the Sophia Gardens as India contest England in the 2nd T20?
Evidencing a team that was scoring at “cruise-mode”, being 50 for 1 in 5 overs, jet-skiing further to 95 for 2 under 12 overs, ti eventually nosediving, scoring only 159- one’s sure Eoin Morgan didn’t have a good night’s sleep at Manchester post the 1st T20.
What might have troubled him would’ve been his own contribution to his sunken ship’s eventual tally. A contribution of 7 didn’t seem to have come from a man, who, a fortnight ago, was tearing Australian bowlers apart.
Was he the same bloke who lifted an in-form Billy Stanlake over widish mid-off for a vintage blow?
But nevermind: you win some, you lose some.
Moreover, T20 affairs are quite like an off day with a blind date. Somedays you hit it off, on others, you much rather have stayed back home and switched on Netflix. Wisdom suggests Morgan should be alert and at the same time maintain the pleasant equanimity that adds appeal to his character.
In Eoin Morgan’s world- where a Bairstow can tether attacks just as well as a Jos Buttler – runs rain down like inclement English weather.
Think, it’s sugary hyperbole?
Here’s proof. Particularly, where past series go, it hardly seems the English have a snake staring down at them, wanting to hiss them.
In all due regard to this current English team, you can hardly pick a current batsman on song. For everyone has been jointly orchestrating a replayable English melody.
Bats creating noises, generating rhythm from the leather, Morgan’s been the conductor whilst the likes of Buttler, Roy, Hales, Bairstow have been performing a harmonica.
A few days ago, England climbed a pivotal peak in world cricket. In scoring 481- the highest ever score in men’s ODIs- Bairstow and Hales fired massive hundreds.
Could Eoin Morgan have lagged behind?
The captain came up with England’s fastest-ever ODI fifty. England would go on to humiliate Australia. As India, inarguably a tougher opponent has arrived, the mind automatically rewinds to some math.
Just how well has England’s captain performed against a Virat-powered India?
If you were to consider a plain statement of fact, then, truth be told, Eoin Morgan’s bat hasn’t quite turned into a magical wand, the likes he’s used to whipping the Aussies.
In both departments of the game- regardless of T20s and ODIs- Morgan’s been rather underwhelming in contrast to his natural attacking instincts.
For a batsman who’s craft stems from judging the length of the ball with audacious ease, Morgan’s struck 1 hundred against India.
Let’s delve a little deeper
Morgan’s maiden India duel would come in 2011. From thereon, he’s contested in 4 separate bi-lateral series against India. Of the phenomenal- the adjective in an ode to being England’s highest ODI scorer- 6200 runs he’s collected in 50-over cricket, only 386 runs have come against India.
In 5 games he played against India during 2012-2013 series, he could go no better than 94. Furthermore, from the 4 games he played, he would manage 84. His highest score was a paltry 32. The only upward spike that Morgan’s enjoyed against India has come in 2016. From just 3 ODIs then, he’d strike 173, including a 102.
Whether a turnaround is on the cards in the ongoing contests is something time can only reveal.
Surely, Morgan’s dry run versus India doesn’t end there
It’s exacerbated by the fact that the left-hander has taken 14 outings to get to 386 runs. It’s a rather strange case of a trusted mountaineer abandoning a stiff climb midway, albeit taking multiple shots at reaching a cliff.
But perhaps that’s the Eoin Morgan conundrum; one that also signifies his enigma.
How many talented, top rate cricketers have you come across who happen to have compiled as many ducks against an opponent against whom they’ve also compiled their maximum aggregate of runs?
Against none other but Australia has Morgan endured the most number of ducks: 5. And against the same opposition has he scored the most number of ODI runs: in excess of 1800.
The same Eoin Morgan who can seem a sedate sailboat on some days can also transform into a magnificent powerboat. That told, there could be no better evidence of a polarisation of his abilities than his efforts in T20s against India.
While Morgan’s looked rather benign in ODIs, he’s been a torpedo in T20s
Fans-whether decked in bright reds or in the sky blues- would remember a lone assault that the batsman of flair waged in 2014.
Back then, Morgan made India into a ham at Birmingham- plundering 7 sixes on way to his 31-ball-71. None saw it coming. In a contest that had Root, Ali, Roy and, Hales- it was Morgan who blazed a trail, one that still reverberates of his heroism against a prudent T20 force.
But that effort was rather short-lived.
Here’s what will be playing on India’s mind
In absolute contrast to his pluckiness in ODIs, Morgan’s enjoyed his best-ever strike rate against India, in T20s. A 155 can spark a few concern, even to an outfit that has a Kuldeep Yadav- clearly, someone Morgan would’ve introspected about.
At the same time, it leaves us with a delicious inquisition.
Can Morgan carry forward some of that explosive form as witnessed against the Aussies into the T20, and later ODI series?