Cricket World Cup 2019: Shikhar Dhawan's injury reignites India's No4 debate vs New Zealand

Ashish Peter 12/06/2019
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Dhawan (r) is sidelined due to a thumb injury.

The only two teams still undefeated so far in the 2019 ICC World Cup will meet when India take on New Zealand at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

It will be the fourth game in a row against Asian opposition for current leaders New Zealand who beat Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan previously in the tournament.

India, on the other hand, are searching for their third straight win after convincing victories against South Africa and defending champions Australia.

RAIN COULD SPOIL THE PARTY

Both India and New Zealand might still preserve their unbeaten status at the end of Thursday if the recent trend of rained-out matches continues in England. Three matches have been washed out in the World Cup in the past five days and the weather forecast for Nottingham on Thursday is not looking too bright either.

Showers are expected in intervals throughout the day and the chances of getting a full 50-over game are slim. The region has experienced heavy rainfall over the past few days and getting even a 20-over game between the two sides might be a bonus at this rate.

Another washed out game will only see the debate over the absence of reserve days in the World Cup rise.

KIWI PACE THREAT FOR INDIA

Three of the four leading wicket-takers currently at the World Cup are New Zealand pacers with Lockie Ferguson topping the charts with eight scalps to his name. Matt Henry is in second spot with seven wickets while James Neesham follows in fourth with six to his tally.

That list does not even include Trent Boult who has a formidable record against India. The Kiwi left-armed pacer has picked up 22 wickets in 12 ODIs against the Men in Blue and will relish the prospect of bowling at them under overcast conditions at Trent Bridge.

The same Kiwi bowling unit bowled India out for just 179 runs in the warm-up clash recently with Boult returning with figures of 4-33. They have so far claimed all 30 wickets on offer in the three matches they have played in the World Cup and will fancy their chances of making it 40 should the ball swing on Thursday.

Boult has an excellent record against India.

Boult has an excellent record against India.

DHAWAN INJURY RE-OPENS NO4 DEBATE

The Indians might have beaten five-time champions Australia in their most recent outing but it came at a huge cost. Opener Shikhar Dhawan has been confirmed to have fractured his thumb in the match and now faces the prospect of being sidelined for three weeks.

India are holding off on naming a replacement for now as they continue to assess the left-hander’s injury. As such, it seems only natural that KL Rahul will be moved up to open the innings alongside Rohit Sharma against New Zealand. He was initially picked in the World Cup squad as a backup opener before pipping Vijay Shankar to the number four slot.

With Rahul moving up the order, the No4 debate has once again been reopened for India and they now have a decision to make. Shankar will be vying with Dinesh Karthik for the middle-order berth and his ability to bowl useful medium pace might just swing things in his favour.

Shankar (l) could bat at No4 for India.

Shankar (l) could bat at No4 for India.

LIKELY XIs

India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Vijay Shankar, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult.

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Cricket World Cup 2019 LIVE: Australia look to bounce back vs Pakistan

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The Men in Green are up against Australia.

Defending champions Australia are looking to get back to winning ways in the 2019 ICC World Cup as they take on Pakistan at Taunton.

Australia had started their campaign with wins against Afghanistan and West Indies but were handed a 36-run loss by India in their most recent outing.

Pakistan, meanwhile, lost their opening match to West Indies before bouncing back with a win against England. Their most recent match against Sri Lanka was washed out due to rain.

Will the five-time champions prevail at Taunton or will Pakistan inflict a second consecutive defeat on Aaron Finch’s men? Find out by following the ball-by-ball commentary from the game below.

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Steve Smith's duel with Shadab Khan and other key battles for Australia vs Pakistan

Ashish Peter 12/06/2019
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Smith's battle with Shadab will be a fascinating one.

The 17th match of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England promises to be a treat – weather permitting – with defending champions Australia set to take on Pakistan at Taunton on Wednesday.

It will be the 10th meeting of the two sides at the World Cup level and there has been little to choose between them previously. While Australia have won five of the nine World Cup meetings so far, Pakistan have prevailed in four.

Wednesday’s clash could very well come down to the minutest of margins and will depend on several intriguing sub-plots. Here, we look at the three key individual battles which could prove to be decisive at Taunton.

AMIR V WARNER

Much was expected from David Warner at the World Cup as the left-hander prepared to make his international comeback after a one-year absence. His stupendous showings in the IPL recently would have given the opening batsman plenty of confidence but he comes into Wednesday’s clash on the back of a disappointing showing against India.

Warner’s scratchy innings of 56 from 84 deliveries was a pain to watch at times with Australia attempting to chase a mammoth 353 and the southpaw was also responsible for running out his skipper Aaron Finch. He will be desperate to make amends for that poor show after being criticised from all quarters and will want to serve a reminder of his attacking prowess.

Stopping him early in his tracks will be important for Pakistan and they will hope that Mohammad Amir can do the trick for them. The left-armed pacer had been off colour for nearly two years while heading into the World Cup but has started to show signs of getting back to his very best.

Amir has claimed five wickets already in two outings so far and will be in confident mood for the Australia clash.

Warner will want to make amends for his display against India.

Warner will want to make amends for his display against India.

BABAR V CUMMINS

There is no doubt that Babar Azam is the linchpin with the bat for Pakistan with the 24-year-old starting to emerge as one of the most prolific ODI batsmen in the game currently.

The right-hander’s consistency continues to touch new heights and it is no surprise that he is averaging over 51 after playing 66 ODIs for Pakistan so far. The top-order batsman has been in good form in the World Cup as well and scored a fine 63 in his side’s stunning win over hosts and favourites England.

Babar, however, will have his task cut out against Pat Cummins who has been equally consistent with the ball for Australia over the past two years. The 26-year-old pacer bowls with plenty of heart and knows how to hit the right spots to get batsmen in trouble. He has been a steady performer for the Aussies in this World Cup with six wickets in three outings and he will be the biggest threat to Pakistan’s top-order including Babar.

Babar holds the key with the bat for Pakistan.

Babar holds the key with the bat for Pakistan.

SHADAB V SMITH

Wrist-spin has emerged as one of the best wicket-taking threats of late in ODI cricket and Pakistan have an excellent proponent of its art in the form of Shadab Khan. The young leg-spinner has stellar numbers in the format with 49 wickets in 36 outings while going at an economy-rate of less than five runs an over.

Shadab has all the variations in his arsenal to flummox the best of batsmen and he will be tasked with the job of stopping Australia’s Steve Smith.

Smith is one of the better players of spin in Australia’s squad and is capable of anchoring the innings for his side. He has been in superb form with the bat since making his return to international cricket and comes into Wednesday’s clash after registering back-to-back fifties against West Indies and India.

His battle with Shadab is bound to be an intriguing one and could decide the final outcome.

Shadab's leg-spin is crucial to Pakistan's hopes.

Shadab’s leg-spin is crucial to Pakistan’s hopes.

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