» Cricket » Number 4 the focus as India face Kiwis in World Cup warm-up

Number 4 the focus as India face Kiwis in World Cup warm-up

Source: PTI
May 24, 2019 12:49 IST
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The focus will be on K L Rahul and Vijay Shankar, contenders for the number four slot, in the World Cup warm up match against New Zealand, in London, on Saturday.

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: Virat Kohli-led India will start the World Cup among the favourites alongside hosts England and defending champions Australia. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Armed with pedigree, personnel and form, favourites India will look to hit the ground running when they face New Zealand in their opening warm-up game of the World Cup in London, on Saturday.

However, with India yet to clear the haze of confusion over the No 4 position, it will be much more than a ritual of allowing one top-order batsman after another -- behemoths in their own right -- a hit in the middle.


The outing at the Kennigton Oval will go beyond experimenting with their highly skilled bowling attack, and quite a bit of focus will be on K L Rahul and Vijay Shankar, contenders for the number four slot.

Dubbed the most challenging World Cup ever owing to a format that is a throwback to the 1992 edition, Virat Kohli's team still arrived in United Kingdom confident of adding to its two titles in the International Cricket Council's showpiece event.

India won the tournament in 1983 and 2011.

Kohli's men, second behind England in the ODI rankings, will start the tournament among the favourites alongside the host nation and defending champions Australia.

They begin their campaign in tournament proper against South Africa in Southampton on June 5, but India will get their first feel of the mega-event in the iconic British capital.

KL Rahul

IMAGE: The in-form K L Rahul is a contender for the number four slot. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

While the arch lights will be firmly trained on their talismanic skipper, the number one batsman in ODIs as well as Tests, India, and their opponents, would also keenly watch their fancied pace attack that is a mix of speed and guile.

In Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan as openers followed by Virat Kohli, India have one of the finest and potent top three in the world. Veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni, all-rounder Kedar Jadhav and the big-hitting Hardik Pandya provide much-needed depth to the batting line-up.

Their opponents will observe the ability of India's seamers to exploit the conditions, which could be the most important factor going ahead.

Jasprit Bumrah, the top-ranked ODI bowler in the world, leads the pace battery alongside Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik.

Wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal add variety to India's attack, and Kohli sees them playing an influential role in the coming weeks.  

The seasoned Ross Taylor, one of the finest limited overs batsmen in recent years, had said it was good that New Zealand were playing India in the practice game. The reverse also holds true for India, as New Zealand offers them the kind of challenge that could make Kohli's team battle-hardened.

Kohli has expressed confidence in his side's ability to live up to the billing, while his counterpart Kane Williamson also expressed how pleased he is to have the squad back together, with New Zealand having last played an ODI on February 19 against Bangladesh.

"It's been great get together for the last few days. We've not played together for a couple of months but we are not the only ones in that boat. The guys are excited to be back in camp which is really refreshing, and we're looking forward to the challenges that we have got coming up," Williamson had said at the World Cup Captain's meet, in London, on Thursday.


India: Virat Kohli (captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (w/k), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (w/k), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell (w/k), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (w/k), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

Match starts at 3pm IST.

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