Virat Kohli & co eyeing for a flying start against Ireland

[caption id="attachment_68848" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Virat Kohli during India's practice session. Image Source: XtraTime[/caption]

XtraTime Web Desk: The Indian cricket team would like to start their two-month long tour well when they will face Ireland in the first T20I of two match series which is set to begin from tomorrow. It will be a good practice for them as after this they will tour to England.

It will be a tough tour for the Men in Blue in England who have just thumped Australia in the ODI series and most importantly all their key players are in supreme form.

Virat Kohli led Indian cricket team had their first training session on Monday since arriving in London. The Men in Blue trained at the Merchants Taylor school cricket ground situated near Moore Park.

The team had a special training session as they were divided into three groups. At first group 1 headed to the main nets where the fast bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Hardik Pandya bowled at the openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. Rohit looked supremely fit and is all set to open the batting with Dhawan against Ireland.

In the Group 2, fielding coach R. Sridhar was seen giving fielding drills to Sidharth Kaul, Dinesh Karthik and others. And in the final group fit again India skipper Virat Kohli faced spinners at a different net while KL Rahul took throws downs from Raghavendra and Sanjay Bangar.

Since the tour of South Africa, this is the first time a full-strength Indian team will be seen in action. Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and MS Dhoni were rested for the T20 tri-series in Sri Lanka in March. The former trio also missed the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Bengaluru recently.

With Rahul in contention for a starting spot in the middle order, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik will be left jostling for two spots. As part of the full-strength Indian side, the three had featured in the T20 series against South Africa. Raina had been used as a pinch-hitting, aggressive number three option, but the current situation might warrant a re-think.

Nevertheless, Raina provides a sixth bowling option as well. India would also not want to drop Dinesh Karthik, who is in sizzling form since March. It could mean that Pandey eventually warms the bench, despite scoring 255 runs in 8 T20Is this year against South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at an average of 85.

On the bowling front, Kohli will be tempted to field both leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, giving them an early taste of conditions here. However, the pace department is an area of concern, as the second-choice fast bowlers have not enjoyed enough game time.

Since the 2017 Champions Trophy, India have played 32 ODIs and 18 T20Is, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah handling the new ball in 26 ODIs and 9 T20Is, respectively. Umesh Yadav last played an ODI in September 2017 against Australia at Bengaluru. Siddharth Kaul was in the Indian squad for the home ODIs against Sri Lanka in December, but was not picked ahead of Kumar-Bumrah.

Kaul is also yet to make his T20I debut, while Yadav played his only T20I back in 2012. It remains to be seen if the think tank will bench either Kumar or Bumrah against Ireland to give other pacers some much needed overs.

India and Ireland do not have a rich playing history. Despite touring England in 2011 and 2014, this is the Men in Blue's first visit here since 2007 when they played a solitary ODI at Belfast. Rohit, Dhoni and Karthik were part of that squad, albeit Karthik was picked ahead of Dhoni in the playing eleven for that one-off game.

Overall, India and Ireland have played only four times, in three ODIs (the other two during 2011 and 2015 ODI World Cups) and a T20I in 2009 during the World T20 in England. India had won that game at Nottingham by eight wickets with Rohit scoring an unbeaten half-century. Dhoni and Raina are the other ?current' members from that playing eleven nine years ago.

For Ireland, skipper Gary Wilson, former captain William Porterfield and all-rounder Kevin O'Brien are the ones to have T20 experience against an Indian team. Meanwhile, 31-year-old Punjab-born off-spinner Simranjit Singh will enjoy the spotlight of playing against his erstwhile nation.


India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Siddarth Kaul.

Ireland: Gary Wilson (c & wk), Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell , Josh Little, Andy McBrine, Kevin O'Brien, William Porterfield, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson.

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