T20 warm-up: With Dhoni half-fit, will India overcome weary England?
Having lost to Sri Lanka by five runs in their first warm-up match on Monday, India will look to enter the main draw on a positive note by beating England in their second warm-up match of the ICC World Twenty20 in Dhaka on Wednesday.
India plays their first group league match against Pakistan on Friday, and beating England will surely help in bringing about a change in the team's mindset.
But India’s worries don’t end there. It seems that captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has still not completely recovered from the side-strain that forced him out of the Asia Cup. He did not bat in Monday's match but kept wickets purely for the lack of ’keeping options in the team.
He also did not bat in the nets prior to the warm-up match.
Image: Mahendra Singh with teammates
Photographs: Getty Images
Yuvraj, Raina's form a positive for India
But India will by buoyed by the showing of comeback men Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh who both had a decent outing against the Lankans.
Yuvraj scored 33 and Raina contributed 41 in a losing cause, but since both can contribute with the ball on slow tracks it makes Ajinkya Rahane's case much weaker.
Rahane was dismissed for a duck in Monday's match and his selection for the next outing remains in doubt.
Since Raina batted at No 3 against the Lankans, which was to allow him to play more deliveries, Rahane’s chances of another outing look bleak.
Also, one can undoubtedly call T20 internationals Yuvraj’s comfort zone since he has got four man-of-the-match awards in India's last five official T20 internationals.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Hamish Blair/Getty Images
Rahane could replace Dhawan or Rohit on top of the order
The only place Rahane could squeeze himself into the batting order is at the top of the line-up.
He has successfully opened for Rajasthan Royals in the last two seasons of the Indian Premier League, and with both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan struggling of late he can make a fight for the top slot.
It won't be surprising therefore if one among Rohit or Dhawan is dropped in order to accommodate Rahane.
There remains the possibility of Dhawan making way for Rahane as Rohit has Dhoni’s backing.
Rohit had a long streak of single digit scores but the skipper has enormous faith in his talent and abilities.
Image: Ajinkya Rahane
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Shami still India's No 1 strike bowler
India has its share of bowling all-rounders who can give regular spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja some assistance.
Mohammed Shami is arguably India's No 1 pacer currently and Varun Aaron looks better suited than Bhuvneshwar Kumar to become the team's second pacer.
Bhuvneshwar's 17 runs in the final over against Sri Lanka proved decisive in the outcome of the match. The young Uttar Pradesh seamer is certainly under pressure as the wickets have dried up and the swing, which made him such a lethal weapon in skipper Dhoni's armoury, is missing.
While he was an unknown entity in his first season, he has been sorted out by the opposition and has lost his sting and surprise factor.
His lack of pace also makes him vulnerable in this format.
Mohit Sharma was the only player in the 15-member squad who was not fielded in the first warm-up game and could get a chance against England on Wednesday.
Image: Mohammed Shami
With Broad recovery on track England could prove a handful
England, on the other hand, will be fighting a jet-lag having taken a long flight from Barbados to Dhaka.
Skipper Stuart Broad is suffering from a dodgy knee even though he has ruled himself fit but the team is not exactly rich in overall international experience save a few like Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan to support Broad.
But they have a few explosive players including Alex Hales, who briefly held the number one rank in the ICC list for the T20 batsmen before Brendon McCullum snatched it from him.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Suresh Raina, Mohammad Shami, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.
England: Stuart Broad (captain), Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Michael Lumb, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Stephen Parry, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Luke Wright.
Image: England captain Stuart Broad speaks with teammates Michael Lumb, Ravi Bopara and Alex Hales
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images