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India in England – India face upbeat Derbyshire and Northamptonshire in warm-ups before England challenge

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While one Indian men’s team is playing England at Edgbaston in the rescheduled fifth Test, another will be involved in two warm-up matches ahead of July’s T20I series against the same opponents, on the back of their 2-0 series win against Ireland in Malahide.
For the England series, Rohit Sharma is back as India captain, with the first match starting at the Ageas Bowl on July 7.
Fourteen of the 17-man squad that travelled to Ireland made an appearance in one of the two T20Is, with Rahul Tripathi, Venkatesh Iyer and Arshdeep Singh the three men to miss out. Hardik Pandya captained the side, with Deepak Hooda and Sanju Samson putting in stand-out performances in the second T20I.

Their opponents this week will be Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, two Midlands counties who have punched above their weight in the Vitality Blast this season. Heading into the final rounds of games, they sit third and fifth respectively in the nine-team North Group, with the top four qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Derbyshire’s historic T20 record is poor: they have reached the knockout stages three times in 19 previous seasons and have only once reached Finals Day, back in 2019 when they lost to eventual champions Essex in the semi-finals. But they have been transformed this season since Mickey Arthur’s arrival as a coach, and a win against Durham on Sunday would guarantee a quarter-final place.
They have used a core of 13 players in the Blast this season, with Shan Masood, one of their overseas players, leading from the front with 516 runs as captain, averaging 46.90 with a strike rate of 142.14. Wayne Madsen and Leus du Plooy, both local players despite their South African heritage, have contributed heavily in the middle order.
With the ball, Scotland’s Mark Watt and the legspinner Mattie McKiernan have been the keys in the middle overs, while Hayden Kerr – the Australian allrounder who was a net bowler for Lucknow Super Giants at IPL 2022 – and the tall seamer George Scrimshaw have been prolific, if occasionally expensive.

Derbyshire have named three overseas players in their 16-man squad for Friday night’s fixture, with Hilton Cartwright, the Australian batter, arriving as cover for Masood, but they are only expected to field three in their playing XI. Ticket sales have been strong, with fewer than 1000 remaining on Thursday evening.

“They’re the benchmark of international cricket in pretty much all formats,” Cartwright told Derbyshire’s YouTube channel. “If you can perform well against them, your game is in a good place. It’s a real challenge to see how far you can test them.”

For Northants, the atmosphere around Sunday’s game will depend heavily on their result against Leicestershire on Friday night. A defeat will see them eliminated but if they win, they will be relying on results elsewhere on Sunday to help them into the quarter-finals. They have a proud T20 history, lifting the trophy in 2013 and 2016, but have struggled in the last five seasons.

Chris Lynn and James Neesham, their overseas players, have been their main stars this year but are not expected to take part in Sunday’s fixture, which has been sold out for the last week. Josh Cobb, their captain, has had an excellent Blast season with bat and ball while young players Saif Zaib, Ben Curran – the middle brother, between Tom and Sam – and left-arm wristspinner Freddie Heldreich have all shown glimpses of their talent.

Fixtures: July 1 – Derbyshire vs India, The Incora County Ground (7pm), July 3 – Northamptonshire vs India, Wantage Road (2.30pm)

Additional reporting: Nagraj Gollapudi



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