- India v England, 1st T20I, Pune
Morgan: T20 series key to England World Cup plans
Eoin Morgan, England's stand-in T20 captain, has said the two T20 internationals with India before Christmas will provide a young squad with the chance to begin formulating their plans for the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
England, the 2010 World T20 champions, were knocked out of this year's tournament in Sri Lanka at the Super Eights stage, a performance Morgan said did not meet the team's own expectations. With T20 captain Stuart Broad injured, Morgan will step up to lead the side in Pune on Thursday and he hopes that a very different set of players can replicate England's historic Test success.
"As we've seen in the past, when the Test side has done well, it's had a knock-on effect with the other two teams - and certainly we'll be looking to win these two games and take confidence and momentum from the Test side and keep the winning habit up," Morgan said.
"Sri Lanka was a bit of a disappointment - we certainly didn't achieve any of our expectations or perform in crucial games when we really needed to. There were a number of areas we looked at and identified, and we hope we'll produce the performances which will catch up the learning curve we're going through at the moment.
"It's in preparation for Bangladesh, and the young guys coming through have fantastic potential. I hope they'll perform over the next four or five days."
Morgan has led England in a single ODI in the past, against Ireland in 2011, but is one of the senior members of the T20I squad. Of the Test touring party, only Morgan, Tim Bresnan, Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root have remained in India for the T20I leg. Graeme Swann, Steven Finn and Kevin Pietersen are among those rested, while Broad is recuperating from a heel problem and Craig Kieswetter and Ravi Bopara have been dropped.
England struggled in their World T20 defence and only managed to beat Afghanistan and New Zealand. Their heavy group-stage defeat to India underlined concerns about playing spin and, although they appear to have worked out a method in Test cricket, the scoring rate required to be competitive in T20 cricket could cloud minds once again.
Morgan was himself injured for England's only previous T20I assignment in India, which they won by six wickets, but he was upbeat about leading a new-look side. "It's a great opportunity for me in these two games against one of the best sides in the world in their backyard," he said. "It's certainly going to be a challenge I'm looking forward to."
Although Morgan has not had many opportunities to play so far in India, his two innings on tour have produced scores of 76 against Mumbai A and 47 in the England Performance Programme's win over the Dr DY Patil Academy. After being given further responsibility by Broad's absence, Morgan said he was ready to make the leap from reserve to captain.
"Being vice-captain of the Twenty20 side in the first place, you're always going to be thrust into a situation where the captain might get injured," Morgan said. "It's something not that I've prepared for it, but mentally you think if something happens to Broady then you might get the chance. Really, I'm quite happy to take the reins."