Chance for India to test bench strength

Will Pawan Negi be handed an international debut? © BCCI

Match facts

Thursday, March 3, 2015
Start time 1930 (1330 GMT)

Big picture

This is the deadest of rubbers. India are through to the Asia Cup final. UAE have no chance of joining them. What’s more, the result of this match, no matter which way it turns out, won’t even matter to the other teams in their bid for the trophy on March 6.

But for India and UAE themselves, there is still enough to play for. MS Dhoni had spoken about making a few changes. Pawan Negi, who is in the World T20 squad as well, might be given a debut. Harbhajan Singh and Ajinkya Rahane might be taken out of the tool box and sharpened a bit as well.

For UAE, the brief is simple. Their bowling has raised a lot of eyebrows. Their fielding, too, is fairly decent considering they are a semi-professional team. Batting has been their biggest let down. They looked completely out of place against Sri Lanka, then blocked themselves into a dead end against Pakistan. Perhaps with tomorrow being their last game in the tournament, they might play with a little more freedom and pull off a first victory against a Full Member.

Form guide

(last five completed matches)


Watch out for

He has been there lighting up the stumps and mopping up run-outs. He has been there backing up his team-mates in every press conference. But he has not had that much time in the middle. MS Dhoni has faced only nine balls in three matches in this Asia Cup. Will he try to move up the order where he could face a few more? Or will testing the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Hardik Pandya take precedence?

Ahmed Raza appears to be your garden variety left-arm spinner. Keen to cramp the batsmen up, cut down on his boundary options, build pressure and hope for a mistake. He has bowled 21 overs in six matches and conceded only 117 runs. The wicket-taking bit is still a work in progress, though. He has only one wicket in the tournament so far.

Team news

India might try to test their bench, and they might not have a more opportune setting for it. It is true that a loss would cause much uproar, but the men who might come in – Rahane, Harbhajan, Negi and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – are no slouches.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma/ Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 MS Dhoni (capt and wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja/ Pawan Negi, 9 R Ashwin/ Harbhajan Singh, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Ashish Nehra/ Bhuvneshwar Kumar

UAE’s batting may benefit from the likes of Mohammad Usman and Amjad Javed moving up the order.

UAE (probable) 1 Rohan Mustafa, 2 Muhammad Kaleem, 3 Mohammad Shahzad, 4 Shaiman Anwar, 5 Mohammad Usman, 6 Amjad Javed (capt), 7 Usman Mushtaq, 8 Swapnil Patil (wk), 9 Mohammad Naveed, 10 Ahmed Raza, 11 Fahad Tariq.

Pitch and conditions

As the Asia Cup heads to its conclusion, the pitches have been slowly easing out. The first six overs with the new ball have been conducive for sideways movement, but if that period is weathered, then the batsmen can dictate terms.

Stats and trivia

  • Mohammad Naveed has bowled 41 dot balls in the main round of the Asia Cup.
  • Virat Kohli averages 103.66 in T20Is in 2016 – the highest among all batsmen.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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