The first of India’s two warm-up games in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, ended in the Men in Blue chasing down England’s 188/5 with six balls to spare. Half-centuries from KL Rahul (51 off 24 balls) and Ishan Kishan (70 off 46 balls) set up the six-wicket win. India’s next warm-up fixture is against Australia on Wednesday. As far as Monday’s game is concerned, these were the five things we learned:

Opening combination is settled

India had been searching for Rohit Sharma’s opening partner in the shortest format. Ishan Kishan paired up with Rohit in the home T20Is against England earlier this year, while Virat Kohli, too, opened in the fifth T20I and had expressed his willingness to repeat it at the T20 World Cup. But at the toss on Monday, the India captain spoke about Rohit and KL Rahul being the team management’s choice as openers. “Things were different before IPL. Now it’s difficult to look beyond KL Rahul (626 runs in the IPL). He’s been solid upfront. I will be batting at (No.) 3,” Kohli said. Rohit didn’t play the game, but Rahul was there as an enforcer.

The Hardik conundrum

Yet again, Hardik Pandya didn’t bowl. The question mark over his bowling fitness ostensibly prompted the selectors to change the squad at the eleventh hour, bringing in Shardul Thakur for Axar Patel. Hardik is seen as a finisher in this team. Then again, the team’s balance gets upset if he doesn’t bowl. It was only a warm-up fixture, but India didn’t have a sixth bowling option despite Bhuvneshwar Kumar going for plenty. Also, Chennai Super Kings successfully used Ravindra Jadeja as a finisher in the IPL and with a 360-degree batsman in the middle order in Suryakumar Yadav followed by Rishabh Pant, the team management will have to decide if playing Hardik solely as a batsman would be a luxury. Shardul can come in as a seam bowling-allrounder.

Kumar needs to fix his length

As a swing bowler, Kumar’s natural length is fuller. But conditions in the United Arab Emirates have been negating swing and as was evident in the IPL, the six-to-eight-metre length served bowlers well. Kumar has been struggling to hit the hard length consistently, Kohli’s praise notwithstanding. On Monday, he conceded eight runs in his first over and went for 21 in his final over.

Chahar as an attacking option

Going by Monday’s game, Kohli is set to use Rahul Chahar as a wicket-taking option. Not too much should be read into the leggie’s figures, 1/43. Chahar bowled some very good deliveries and one of them accounted for Dawid Malan. Almost throughout his bowling spell, Kohli kept a slip in place, attesting his intent to attack in the middle overs through the leg-spinner.

Kohli needs to hit his straps

India need their best batsman up and running for a title charge, but Kohli once again didn’t look to be in peak rhythm. He tried to spend time in the middle, mostly working the ball around before getting out for a 13-ball 11. He is a big game player, but some runs against Australia would be a confidence-booster.





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