India seek right combination as they begin World Cup preparation
For they have their own share of questions to find answers to and combinations to figure out.
CHENNAI: The 2023 ICC Men’s ODI World Cup is set to get underway in 30 days. The BCCI is meeting with the state associations on Thursday to finalise things, including the possibility of rescheduling the clash against Pakistan on October 15, the day when the Hindu festival Navratri begins. Halfway around the world, the Indian team begins dress rehearsal of its own in the Caribbean.
In what will be the first of the 12 ODIs (at best, 11 minimum) Rohit Sharma-led side will play in the lead-up to the global event, the Men in Blue would want to hit the floor running against West Indies. For they have their own share of questions to find answers to and combinations to figure out. At this point, if there are no further injury concerns, India has five spots locked in their first-choice ODI playing XI. The top three — Rohit, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli — and two all-rounders in Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja.
The No. 4 slot, which it seemed Shreyas Iyer had locked in, is in play with his injury, and Suryakumar Yadav will be looking to make the most of this tour. After his stellar T20I success, the right-hander had three ducks in ODIs earlier this year and there have been questions as to whether he will be able to replicate a similar performance in the 50-over format. While there is already a problem of plenty for the slots between 4-7 with the two aforementioned all-rounders and a keeper in the mix, Yadav will be under pressure to step up in this series.
Similarly, with KL Rahul injured, the team management is still shopping for the middle-order wicket-keeper batter. The options they have in this series are Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan. While the latter is a white-ball opener in reserves, it should not come as a surprise if they try him in the middle. However, this series could be more crucial for Samson. He has done well in whatever international games he got in the last 12 months — 284 runs in ten ODIs in 2022 at 71 while striking at 105.57 — but has not lit up the Indian Premier League this season. If there ever was a series and moment to seize, this was it for Samson. To retain his place in the playing XI in the Asia Cup and the Australia series, the 28-year-old will have to put on a show at every chance he gets.
In the bowling department, there are four spinners in the mix, including two wrist spinners and it might all come down to the conditions and combinations. What will be crucial, however, is the pace attack and the team management would want to see if they could carry forward either Mukesh Kumar or Umran Malik from hereon regularly. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are expected to come back and Mohammed Siraj is a sure starter with Shardul Thakur as a luxury, but with a plague of injuries going around, they will need all the options they can have on the table.
From the outset, it might seem like an inconsequential bilateral against a team that did not qualify for the World Cup. But, there’s more. For they have just 12 days out on the field before beginning their quest to end the ICC Trophy drought.
India vs West Indies, first ODI, Bridgetown
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