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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Harbhajan, Negi may finally get a game as India face minnows UAE

Harbhajan, Negi may finally get a game as India face minnows UAE

March 02, 2016 16:21 IST

- 'I think most of the players will definitely get a chance in the next game. Whether all the people who are sitting outside will get a chance, we are not sure. But we will try to make as many changes as possible.'

Harbhajan Singh

IMAGE: Harbhajan Singh bowls. Photograph: BCCI

Having already secured their place in the final with three back-to-back wins, India are set to field their benched players against minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their final league encounter of the Asia Cup T20 tournament, in Mirpur, on Thursday.

Following the five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka on Tuesday, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Wednesday stated that the match against minnows UAE will be a perfect platform to give opportunity to all those who have been on the bench for the last few games.

It means that atleast two or three amongst the quartet of Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are likely to play.

With the World T20 looming round the corner, it would be interesting to see Dhoni, who struggled with an injury at the start tournament, would take a rest which would give back-up wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel his first international game in four years.

Parthiv was rushed to Dhaka last week after Dhoni suffered a muscle spasm in his back during a training session ahead of India's first match against Bangladesh.

"We will definitely make a few changes in the coming games. How many we can you know, that's something we will have to see. Because we still want the strength and the composition of the side to be very good," Dhoni said.

"I think most of the players will definitely get a chance in the next game. Whether all the people who are sitting outside will get a chance, we are not sure. But we will try to make as many changes as possible," he added.

IMAGE: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, left, speaks to team director Ravi Shastri during a training session in Mirpur. Photograph: Solaris Images.

It is expected that Rahane will get another game in the tournament. He might replace opener Shikhar Dhawan, who has looked uncomfortable against the new ball on wickets which have provided the fast bowlers a bit of assistance.

Rahane had replaced the injured Dhawan in the match against Pakistan but was dismissed off the very first delivery he faced by pacer Mohammad Amir, in the first over of the innings.

Veteran Ashish Nehra will get a deserved rest after playing nine T20 games in a month. In these nine games, he has bowled 31 overs with a more than decent haul of 12 wickets at a satisfactory economy rate.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has slipped off the radar a bit since the World Cup in Australia last year, could replace him. Interestingly, Bhuvneshwar is not part of India's squad for the World T20.

Three years back, Bhuvneshwar was the first choice seamer in all conditions and across formats for his ability to swing the ball but he has struggled in the last year or so and has found it difficult to keep his place in the squad.

He has grown stronger, increased few yards of pace but has lost that ability to swing the ball. A weaker opposition like UAE might help him to get a few easy wickets and also bolster his confidence.

Suresh Raina

IMAGE: Suresh Raina bats in the nets. Photograph: Solaris Images.

The quality of opposition also gives Dhoni an opportunity to test his second line of spinners.

The off-spin-left-arm spin combination of Harbhajan Singh and Pawan Negi may straightaway replace Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for this particular game.

Negi, who emerged as the most expensive Indian player during the recent Indian Premier League Players Auction last month when he was bought by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 8.5 crore, is likely to get his first game at the international level. The left-hander is also quite handy lower down the order with his ability to hit big sixes.

Meanwhile, Harbhajan, who has found it hard to break into the playing eleven because of Ashwin's superb form with the ball, will look to utilise the opportunity to the fullest if he plays against minnows UAE.

As a bowling unit, UAE, who are coached by former Pakistan coach Aaquib Javed, has not done too badly with their skipper Amjad Javed leading from the front. Javed has dealt early blows to all the oppositions but in case of India, the batting line-up is far superior compared to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Yuvraj Singh, who looked in fine touch against Sri Lanka, would like to continue his recent good batting form against an inexperienced bowling attack.

Suresh Raina, who has struggled in the Asia Cup, would also be itching to get back to form ahead of Sunday's final.

Squads:

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Pawan Negi, Harbhajan Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Parthiv Patel.

United Arab Emirates: Amjad Javed (captain), Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Naveed, Mohammed Shahzad, Muhammad Kaleem, Muhammad Usman, Swapnil Patil, Qadeer Ahmed, Rohan Mustafa,
Saqlain Haider, Shaiman Anwar, Usman Mushtaq, Zaheer Maqsood.

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