With just days remaining for the start of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England, India and New Zealand will look to add the finishing touches to their preparations when they lock horns in a warm-up clash at The Oval, London on Saturday.
It is the first official warm-up fixture for both sides who are due to meet again in the World Cup 2019 round-robin stage at Trent Bridge on June 13.
For India skipper Virat Kohli, getting the better of New Zealand in the warm-up fixtures is crucial.
“It is probably the most challenging World Cup of all the three that I have been part of because of the format and looking at the strength of the all the sides as well,” Kohli had said before India’s arrival in England.
“If we live up to our skill sets and our standards that we set for ourselves, we’ll be on the right side of the result more often. That is going to be key. Every game you have to play to the best of your potential because it’s not a group stage anymore, it’s playing everyone once.”
WHO WILL BAT AT NO4 FOR INDIA?
One of the key areas that Kohli and the Indian team management will be looking to test on Saturday against the Kiwis is the No4 batting position. With India choosing to ignore Rishabh Pant the team’s options for the No4 spot in the batting order are KL Rahul and all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
While Rahul is coming off an excellent individual IPL campaign for Kings XI Punjab, Shankar had a dismal time with Sunrisers Hyderabad. However, the latter’s ability to bowl medium pace could be a handy option in English conditions and that could tilt the scales in his favour.
Both the players will be expected to be handed an opportunity in the role during India’s two warm-up fixtures and it remains to be seen as to who seizes the opportunity. Another option for Kohli is to promote wicketkeeper MS Dhoni up the batting order to No4.
BLACKCAPS LOOK TO GET BACK INTO THE GROOVE
For New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, Saturday’s clash against the Indians will be a chance for his men to get back into the thick of things. New Zealand’s last international engagement came nearly two months ago in an ODI against Bangladesh and Williamson is hoping to dust off the cobwebs before the 2019 World Cup gets underway.
“It’s been great to get together for the last few days,” Williamson stated at the captains’ press conference on Thursday.
“We’ve not played together for a couple of months but we’re 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.”
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, James Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson
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