India would look to fine-tune their preparation for the 2021 men's T20 World Cup when they face 2016 runners-up England in their first warm-up match in Dubai on Monday. Match practice will not be an issue as the Indian players are coming after playing for their franchises in the recently-concluded IPL. It's more about finding the right combination ahead of their opening match.
The two warm-up matches, against England followed by the match against Australia on Wednesday, gives Virat Kohli and Indian team management a chance to finalise their playing eleven before the high-octane opening clash with Pakistan on October 24. India will be looking to test players for the showpiece event apart from assessing all-rounder Hardik Pandya's form, especially with the ball. Pandya's form is a big headache as the mystery over his availability to bowl in the tournament continues.
With Rohit Sharma certain to open, it remains to be seen whether Ishan Kishan or KL Rahul will partner him at the top. Rahul's scores, while captaining Punjab Kings in the UAE leg of IPL 2021, read as 49, 21, 21, 67, 39, and 98 not out. Kishan, on the other hand, had measly returns of 11, 14, and 9 while batting in the middle order for Mumbai Indians. After a break of two matches, he returned to slam 50 not out and 84 as an opener.
In terms of bowling, Ravindra Jadeja and Varun Chakravarthy could be the spin options. In the pace department, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah pick themselves on account of form and experience. It could be a toss-up between Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, and Rahul Chahar for the fifth bowler's spot.
England, on the other hand, will look to decide on their best combinations in batting and bowling during the warm-up matches. Some players from their team also starred in IPL 2021, giving them a good knowledge of what to expect from the UAE pitches. The form of skipper Eoin Morgan, who had a very woeful IPL 2021 with the bat, will be of major concern for the think tank.
The warm-up match begins at 7:30 PM IST and will be streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar.
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, Rahul Chahar, Hardik Pandya Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid and Mark Wood.
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