DUBLIN, JUNE 27,
It’s the dress rehearsal before the the actual test, but India would do well not to let the guard down when it takes on a lowly but effervescent Ireland in a two-match T20 rubber, starting on Wednesday.
The games will mark the onset of a long summer for the Indian team, with sterner tests against England to follow this short series in Malahide.
Since the tour of South Africa, this is the first time a full-strength Indian team will be seen in action.
Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and M.S. Dhoni were rested for the T20 tri-series in Sri Lanka in March. With K.L. Rahul in contention for a spot in the middle order, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik will be left jostling for two places.
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.
Raina provides a sixth bowling option as well. India will 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 eight T20Is this year 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 had enough game time.
Since the Champions Trophy, Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah have been handling the new ball. 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 Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah.
India and Ireland do not have a rich playing history. This is the Men in Blue’s first visit here since 2007 when they played a solitary ODI at Belfast.
Rohit Sharma, 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 with T20 experience against India.
Punjab-born off-spinner Simranjit Singh (31) will enjoy the spotlight of playing against his erstwhile nation.asaas
DUBLIN, JUNE 27,