‘Chopping, changing over now’ – India shift focus to World Cup
NEW DEHLI 992 News) – India have 13 one-day international fixtures lined up before the ICC Men’s World Cup 2019, and the final stretch of matches will start when they get to Australia.
Prior to the departure for Australia, where India will play three Twenty20 Internationals, four Tests and three one-day internationals – in that order – Ravi Shastri, the team coach, confirmed that no new players will be tried unless absolutely necessary before the World Cup.
India have fielded 25 players in ODIs in 2018, and there have been a few reasons for it: All-format players like Virat Kohli taking time off once in a while, injuries to key players, like Hardik Pandya and others, and the need to manage the workload of the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the premier fast bowlers.
“We will try and play close to a 15 that will go to the World Cup. Chopping, changing over now. Rest period over. Now is the time to really get focused, play as a unit. And hopefully not have too many injuries where we have to look elsewhere,” said Shastri.
India have no more ODIs in 2018, with the games against Australia to be played between 12 and 18 January. Then India play five ODIs in New Zealand between 23 January and 3 February, followed by five more ODIs against Australia, this time at home, in February-March. The World Cup runs from late May to mid-July.
“There are not too many games now: we have got eight good games in Australia and New Zealand and then five against Australia here. So 13 games. So we will try and play the best team at all times,” said Shastri.
The team has generally worn a settled look. In 2018, of the 20 ODIs India have played, they have lost just four, winning 14 and tying two. This includes a 5-1 series win in South Africa at the start of the year and triumph at the Asia Cup in the UAE.
There have been concerns too – the No.4 spot in the batting order, where India haven’t found someone dependable enough for the top-three of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Kohli to share the load with. Ambati Rayudu has emerged as the front-runner for the position most recently, with Kohli saying that he was likely to remain at that spot for the World Cup.