Cardiff: The top-order will ideally like an extended session in the middle but injured Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar’s lack of game time will certainly be a bigger worry for India ahead of their final World Cup warm-up game against Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The top heavy Indian line-up flattered to deceive in bowling-friendly conditions at the Oval as Trent Boult troubled them with both swing and seam movement. The six-wicket defeat against New Zealand however won’t be a big worry for Virat Kohli as he has some bigger issues to take care of.
Kohli is bound to be a worried man if Jadhav and Shankar are unable to get a decent hit against Mashrafe Mortaza’s men before facing a tricky opposition like South Africa in its tournament opener at Southampton on June 5.
India’s primary objective during the practice games is to fix their middle-order problems but the two protagonists, who are likely to fill in the important Nos 4 and 6 in the tournament proper, have not fully recovered from their respective injuries. While Kedar injured his left shoulder during the IPL, Shankar was hit in the nets by a Khaleel Ahmed short ball.
This, however, is a Godsend opportunity for KL Rahul to score some useful runs against an attack comprising Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahaman, Rubel Hossain and Shakib al Hasan and cement the No 4 slot.
Unless Ravi Shastri and Kohli decide to promote Dinesh Karthik and check him out. Shakib is recovering from a niggle and Bangaldesh coach Steve Rhodes expects him to play a pivotal role in the Tigers’ campaign. Rohit and Shikhar, who have enjoyed a decent amount of success against Bangladesh, won’t mind some runs which is always a confidence booster ahead of the main event.
If the conditions in Cardiff remain overcast, playing out a testing first spell of Mustafizur or Rubel will certainly keep the top-order batsmen in good stead. Apart from Rahul, the other player who will like to assert himself in the middle will be Ravindra Jadeja, who was the only saving grace in the first warm-up game. While Jadeja’s core strength remains batting, his accurate bowling and razor sharp fielding will keep Jadhav on toes once he gets hundred percent fit.
An interesting move in the first game was to send Hardik Pandya at No 5 ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who literally struggled in tough batting conditions scoring 17 off 42 balls. If Hardik is seen as an enforcer at No 5 and Dhoni as a finisher at No 6, the second down slot will become all the more pivotal in the larger context as Rahul, Karthik or Shankar, whoever fits in will have to play the role of a sheet anchor.
The bowlers did a decent job in the first outing with both Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami being sharp and economical but a good spell from Kuldeep Yadav is likely to keep him in good space....