Having already sealed a place in the final, India will be tempted to test their fringe players when they face an already knocked out Bangladesh in a Super Four match of the Asia Cup here on Friday. The Rohit Sharma-led outfit will think deep whether to give as much game time as possible to its first-choice team or give an opportunity to some of the fringe players ahead of the World Cup at home next month. The question of workload management is pertinent particularly in the case of bowlers.
Jasprit Bumrah has bowled just 12 overs so far in the Asia Cup – five against Pakistan and seven against Sri Lanka. He did not play against Nepal.
So, it could boil down to Bumrah’s choice whether he wants to have a crack at batsmen in one more match or take a step back and return for the summit clash on September 17.
On the other hand, Mohammed Siraj has bowled 19.2 overs and Hardik Pandya 18 overs in this tournament.
It might not appear heavy numbers but the humidity in Colombo has been energy-sapping, so the team management might just give a break to one of them.
In that context, it would not be a major surprise if Shami replaces Siraj against Bangladesh.
It will also help the senior pacer to register some valuable real-match time under his belt before the quadrennial big bash, starting October 5.
It is important because Shami has now been used as a back-up seamer behind Bumrah, Siraj and Pandya.
But the dwindling bowling graph of Axar Patel will concern the thinktank as he has been marked as a cover for Ravindra Jadeja.
The left-arm spinner has neither been able to take wickets and contain the run-flow, an area where Jadeja excels.
Axar has played seven ODIs this year, and managed to take only three wickets and his economy is hovering around six. He will need a significant lift in his game, and immediately too! KL Rahul’s return to full fitness has straightened a lot of creases for the team management. He has batted with fluency and kept wickets with agility here.
After the match against Sri Lanka, Rahul had spoken at length about the role clarity given to him by the team management, that he would be India’s premier wicket-keeper-cum-middle-order batsman.
So, it can be assumed that Rahul is all set to continue his duty against Bangladesh as well.
But Shreyas Iyer’s fitness will be keenly watched as he missed the Super 4 matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka with back spasm.
However, Shreyas batted and bowled at nets on Thursday without any visible discomfort, and that should come as a pleasing development for the team.
But if the management wants to give some extra time for the Mumbaikar to recuperate, they can weigh their options between Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav.
While has Kishan has been impressive in ODIs so far, Suryakumar’s numbers were quite disappointing in the format.
Despite that, Suyakumar has been viewed as an important cog in India’s white ball establishment, and the thinktank would want to give another chance for him to push his case.
When it comes to the Bangladesh camp, they will not have the services of wicketkeeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim for this match.
Rahim had flown back home after their Super 4 match against Sri Lanka, which they lost by 21 runs.
In the absence of Rahim, Litton Das is expected to keep wickets.
However, their captain Shakib al Hasan has rejoined the team after returning home to spend some time with his family.
Teams: India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumraj, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Anamul Haque Bijoy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Towhid Hridoy, Afif Hossain Dhrubo, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed, Shak Mahedi Hasan, Naim Sheikh, Shamim Hossain, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Tanzim Hasan Sakib.
Match starts at 3 PM IST.
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