Both the Australia players were banned for their roles in the ball-tampering saga which erupted on the team’s tour of South Africa earlier this year. Warner was handed a 12-month ban from international and domestic cricket by Cricket Australia while Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension.
Now, the duo fill be on the opposite sides in the NT Strike League with Bancroft’s Desert Blaze taking on Warner’s City Cyclones on Sunday at Darwin.
Warner, the former Australia vice-captain, has recently returned from his stint in the inaugural Global T20 Canada. The left-hander’s participation in the new T20 league along with Steve Smith was his first game-time in competitive cricket since being handed his ban.
Warner played for Winnipeg Hawks in Canada and was appointed as the skipper of the franchise midway through the tournament after Dwayne Bravo pulled out due to personal reasons.
The 31-year-old had a poor start to the tournament but found his form as the tournament progressed with a half-century in his side’s penultimate game against the Edmonton Royals.
Bancroft meanwhile, has been in fine form for the Desert Blaze this season and scored two half-centuries in the six matches in the T20 leg of the tournament.
The first Test between the two sides gets underway on August 1 at Edgbaston with India announcing their 18-man squad for the first three matches on Wednesday.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated series between the two heavyweights, Ashwin has expressed his confidence in taking on the challenge.
“It’s a lovely place and I enjoy going to England and playing cricket there. For me it’s about going there, understanding the situation. We are a good team. It’s all about responding to situations thrown at us,” the India man was quoted as saying by the ICC.
The 33-year-old has previously played county cricket for Worcestershire and although there were reports that he might prepare for the tour with another stint in England’s domestic competition, Ashwin ultimately gave it a miss and chose to play the one-off Test against Afghanistan instead.
Kohli’s men will take on Essex in a four-day match at Chelmsford starting on July 25 in what will be their sole warm-up game ahead of the Test series. Despite that, Ashwin feels India are well-prepared for what will be a long a grueling series.
“Sometimes I feel we over-cook, over-prepare ourselves. It is important to stay in the moment and react to it. It will be crucial on how early we acclimatize in the series. Once we do that it’s all about reacting to situation and having that belief that you can retaliate at any point because it’s a long Test series. We are going to commit mistakes and so will the home team. I want to use my experience that I have played Test cricket for and try to make it to best use,” he explained.
Saha had earlier been sidelined with a thumb injury he sustained in the IPL while playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad and subsequently missed the one-off Test against Afghanistan.
According to a report by the DNA, the Bengal wicketkeeper has been carrying a shoulder injury for a few months now and it was aggravated during his recent rehabilitation stint at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
“This is a bizarre case where none of the selectors were aware of the real cause of his (Saha) injury when the team was picked for the first three Tests,” a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by DNA.
“He has a serious shoulder injury and whether or not he needs a surgery would be decided in a week’s time after a few more medical scans,” the official added.
The wicketkeeper’s injury woes have come to the surface of late with various reports laying the blame on the NCA’s doorsteps. For a long time it was believed that Saha was recuperating from his thumb injury, with the news about his shoulder only emerging days before the selection of India’s Test squad.
Saha’s team has taken to Twitter in light of the recent speculation.
“Yes! Wriddhi is physically unwell and may not be there in the upcoming England Test series. We are going through a bad phase and crisis, ” a statement read on the social media site.
“Thanks to all the fans, well wishers and people who are there beside us during the time of injury. Injury is not in anyone’s hand and to the people who are making astrological conclusions right now regarding his future cricket, (we) would suggest, learn to wish (for) someone’s recovery (rather) than predicting future!
“Have some respect for someone who has got injured playing for the country.”