Champions Trophy: India need to forget spot-fixing saga
Indian cricketers face the daunting twin tasks of leaving behind the IPL spot-fixing scam and adapting to the tough conditions in England as they begin their preparations for the ICC Champions Trophy with a warm-up game against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
Some on-field action will help divert the attention from the scandal, which has tarnished the reputation of Indian cricket.
The conditions favour India's fast bowlers, but they need to sort out their line and length.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has already said they will follow a five-bowler strategy.
Image: MS Dhoni
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Will the pacers exploit the conditions?
India's success will hinge on how well the pacers exploit the conditions. There are a lot of expectations from young Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who can swing the ball both ways.
He has impressed in the limited opportunities he got, especially against Pakistan in a home ODI series. Conditions are ideal for his style of bowling and he would look to cement his place in the side with some solid performances.
Umesh Yadav, who has returned to the fold after recovering from injury, could not get a better opportunity to force his way back into the side, as the pitches in England will assist him.
Ishant Sharma also looks in good touch after being instrumental in his IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad's stupendous show.
Dhoni may choose to go in with Irfan Pathan as his fourth pacer given that his batting skills will lend India's line-up more depth. It will be interesting to see how Dhoni uses Vinay Kumar, the other pacer.
Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Ravindra Jadeja a strong contender
Ravindra Jadeja is a strong contender to fill the lone spinner's slot. His batting prowess down the order makes him an automatic choice for the skipper.
In that case, Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra may have to wait for a chance to roll their arms, as the first six slots will be filled by batsmen.
Image: Ravindra Jadeja
Big opportunity for Shikhar Dhawan
It is a big opportunity for Shikhar Dhawan, who caught the world's attention with a blistering hundred on debut against Australia in the home Test series last year.
Dhawan looks confident, but he has to ensure that his footwork is up to the mark in the probing conditions he will enounter.
Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and skipper Dhoni are all in good form going by their showing in the just-concluded IPL season and expected top do well.
There is some concern though over Virat Kohli's form as he has played well only in patches for Royal Challengers Bangalore. At the same time he remains a big performer and holds the key to India's fortunes in the tournament.
India: MS Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and Vinay Kumar.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (c), Dinesh Chandimal (vc), Dilhara Lokuhettige, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sachithra Senanayake and Lahiru Thirimanne.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan