Conditions and length of the match will dictate the team combination, says India captain Virat Kohli as the fickle Manchester weather is likely to affect Sunday’s marquee World Cup clash against Pakistan.
While Kohli did not spell out the changes, there is a strong possibility that Dinesh Karthik will be preferred over Vijay Shankar if it’s a less than 35 overs game per side, reported PTI.
Since Pakistan batsmen are capable of handling spin and three left-handers are likely to feature in their top-order (Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq and Haris Sohail for Asif Ali), Kuldeep Yadav may make way for Mohammed Shami in overcast conditions.
However Kohli is not entirely against the idea of fielding two spinners, with Yuzvendra Chahal being a sure-shot entry. The leg-spinner has been in fine form so far for India, picking up crucial wickets in the teams’ two wins. Ravindra Jadeja’s restrictive bowling can also be a good option, if Kohli wants to bolster the batting.
“The conditions and the length of the game will obviously make us think about a few combinations that we could potentially go in with,” Kohli said on the eve of the match.
“The kind of spinners and the kind of bowlers that we have in our team, it’s difficult for any team to just come out and attack these guys straight away. There’s a certain level of risk involved as well.”
However the skipper said that the decision will be based more on his side’s comfort rather than looking at the opposition.
“Look, we have to be flexible. We can’t be rigid in our approach because, if the conditions are very different from what we played in the last game, then we’ll have to think of different combinations. If pace becomes a more important option, then we’ll look to explore that,” Kohli said dropping a hint on inclusion of Shami. It is all but certain, though, that Shami will only play as the third pacer and not replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as the Indian captain admitted the same after the win against Australia.
In the batting order, missing the services of ICC tournament expert Shikhar Dhawan, it seems likely that Vijay Shankar with his better technique than Karthik is in for a World Cup debut if it’s a 40-over-plus per side game, the PTI report added. Ahead of the washed out match against New Zealand, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder is reported to have spent a considerable time in the nets, having come out to bat first.
“If the length of the game is going to be full and we expect the game to be 50 overs for both sides, then we’ll probably think of another combination, but we’ll have to be flexible. We’ll have to see how the conditions are,” Kohli insisted. “I think all players are in a zone to be ready to play, so that helps in selecting the combination that you need to, depending on what conditions you’re going to face.”
On the other side of the equation, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur didn’t reveal his playing XI either but there are indications that wrist spinner Shadab Khan may come in place of pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi. Shadab’s exclusion against Australia was widely criticised even though the conditions were overcast and the pitch was green.
There is not enough moisture in the Old Trafford pitch according to Arthur which might prompt them not to play four pacers.
“We looked at the wicket yesterday, and the wicket was not like Taunton. Taunton was green and moist. You would be silly not to have played four quick bowlers in Taunton. Australia did exactly the same as us. That was a no brainer.
“But things are different at Old Trafford, reckons Arthur which might force them to do a bit of tinkering.
“Looking at this wicket, I’m not 100 percent sure there’s massive amount of moisture.The wicket is certainly a lot browner than Taunton. So those things will come into the equation in terms of our thinking.”
(With PTI inputs)