India’s World Cup campaign will finally get underway on Wednesday against South Africa in Southampton. While all the other teams have already started their campaigns, India is the only team which is yet to play a single game in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
While this issue has been discussed and debated a lot, it is the Supreme Court mandate that there must be a gap of 15 days between the IPL final and India’s next International fixture, that has ultimately influenced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to prepare such a schedule for the World Cup.
No, Virat Kohli and his team are not grumbling. A long way from being fretful, the Men-in-Blue have blended preparations with recreation and fun. Since landing in England, Kohli has not only trained hard but has gone to meet the Queen and the Royals, come back to train with his teammates, while also playing a game of paintball with some of the members of the Indian Team.
Surely, Indian team management understands the value of rest and relaxation along with proper training and nutrition.
Here are some talking points ahead of India’s opening clash.
KL Rahul looks a certainty at No 4
After his hundred in the Warm Up game against Bangladesh, it seems like Rahul has made the No 4 spot his own.
Vijay Shankar though, who was the original choice for the No. 4 spot, will have to wait for his turn since he couldn’t quite prove a point neither in the IPL nor in the Warm Up games leading up to the World Cup
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s inclusion in the Playing XI
The gauge proposes an overcast day in Southampton come Wednesday. Will that entice India to play Bhunveshwar Kumar — who likewise batted first in the nets on Monday — as the pacer?
The other motivation to field Bhuvneshwar could be the success of short-pitch bowling so far in the competition. Having three quick bowlers alongside Hardik Pandya could add muscle to India’s quick bowling department.
Jadeja or Jadhav?
However, if Bhuvi is included in the team, it is bound to affect the team balance. Six batsmen, including Hardik as the all-rounder, and at least a spinner – Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal – in addition to three seamers leaves only one spot in the team, which could be either Kedar Jadhav or Ravindra Jadeja based on the conditions and the management’s strategy.
It will be quite interesting to watch out who will grab that spot – Jadeja, who was absolutely spot on in the Warm Up game against New Zealand at The Oval or Jadhav, who has quite recently rejoined the team after his shoulder injury in the IPL.
The call can, to a large extent, decide the fate of the game; not to forget, Jadeja’s invaluable contribution as a fielder which might be taken into consideration while making this call.
In the last five completed ODIs at the venue, the average first-innings score is 311. While quick bowlers have a poor average of 58.4, with an economy rate of 6.4, the spinners’ average is even worse at 60.1 but with a slightly better economy of 6.0.
This must, without a doubt, influence the team combination for the Indian side.