Sports / 2019 World Cup: Focus on team balance as India face New Zealand in warm-up match

India Today : May 25, 2019, 12:41 PM

India will take on New Zealand in their first warm-up match of ICC 2019 World Cup at The Oval on Saturday.

Virat Kohli's men had landed in the United Kingdom earlier this week and have already had two training sessions. Considered one of the favourtes at World Cup 2019, India will be keen on leaving no stone unturned when it comes to preparing and getting acclimatised to conditions in the UK.

India, who are bidding to win their 3rd World Cup title, will be looking to get their team combination right ahead of their opening game against South Africa on June 5. After Saturday's warm-up tie against New Zealand, India also face Bangladesh on May 28 in Cardiff.

All eyes will be on India's No. 4 spot as India have been struggling to find a mainstay for the crucial batting position in the team. All-rounder Vijay Shankar, who had made his ODI debut in 2019, was earmarked for the role but Shankar's availability is uncertain as he was hit on the right hand during a training session on Friday in London.

In Shankar's absence, KL Rahul who was seen as a reserve opener might play at No. 4. The Kings XI Punjab opener was in fine form in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 and he will be hoping to impress.

Kedar Jadhav's performance will also be keenly followed as the India all-rounder seems to have recovered in time after picking up a shoulder injury during IPL 2019. Jadhav did not bowl for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and is reportedly yet to roll his arms over at the Team India nets in London.

Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and captain Virat Kohli were in fine form in IPL but all eyes will be on Rohit Sharma as India's vice-captain will be hoping to hit peak form following an ordinary IPL season with the bat.

While the pace bowling department looks a well-oiled machine, concerns surrounding Kuldeep Yadav's bowling form will come to forefront when the young wrist-spinner takes the field on Saturday.

With clouds expected to be hanging over the Oval, India seamers will be keen on making an early impact. The spinners will also come into play, considering large square boundaries at the iconic venue.

On the other hand, New Zealand, runners-up of the 2015 World Cup, will be hoping to lay down an early marker by handing World Cup favourites India a defeat on Saturday.

Tom Latham will be unavailable due to an injury and Tom Blundell gets an opportunity to showcase his worth as wicketkeeper-batsman.

With the likes of Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor in fine form, New Zealand will be hoping to negate the much-talked-about Indian bowling threat.

The battle between the two pace attacks will be an interesting watch. While Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult are likely to lead the new-ball attack for New Zealand, India will bank on Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.