Oh, for some hot culture!
India tumble for 179 in overcast conditions as Kohli & Co go down to NZ in first warm-up match
India skipper Virat Kohli chose to bat in trying circumstances in the warm-up game on Saturday to provide his batsmen a stern test against the New Zealand quicks ahead of the World Cup. But the top order failed miserably on The Oval pitch with a bit of grass in overcast conditions. A target of 180 was never going to challenge the Kiwis and they cantered home with almost 13 overs and six wickets to spare.
The Kiwi bowlers were more at home in helpful conditions and swung the ball both ways to have the Indian batsmen in all sorts of trouble. From openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to Kohli and No. 4 batsman KL Rahul, India struggled till they lasted and if India were able to post a total of 179 it was only due to a fine half-century by Ravindra Jadeja, who may well not be in the starting XI in India's opening match against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.
Ravindra Jadeja hits a six off spinner Ish Sodhi on Saturday. Pic/Bipin Patel
There is no doubt that being an unofficial match dictated Kohli's decision to bat first. Normally, he would have preferred his pace bowlers to make use of the helpful conditions. The Indian batsmen have come here after playing the long-drawn IPL on flat tracks and it is but natural they were all at sea when the conditions were tough. So much so that they could bat only 39.2 overs, and a score they put up would have been par for an IPL game.
The outcome of the match is not a big disaster as it is not the first time that one of the top teams have lost a practice match. India will surely try to make amends and make the most of the next warm-up match in Cardiff on May 28 against Bangladesh. The pitch at the Sophia Gardens ground is known to be a flat track with short boundaries, and it is quite on the cards that India's top guns will hit the target in that match.
It was a match where India could have given practice to all their batsmen but unfortunately two of them Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar were not available due to injuries. And the player who got the chance to stake his claim to No. 4 'Rahul' was cleaned up by a Trent Boult thunderbolt. So, that brings India back to square one as far as that batting spot is concerned.
Another interesting thing in the match was Dinesh Karthik kept wicket and MS Dhoni who had batted earlier and made 17 runs, rested in the dressing room, giving an opportunity to all the bowlers to be present on the field.
When India bowled, Jasprit Bumrah looked the most impressive and though Bhuvneshwar Kumar swung the ball, he was not effective. Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya too could not make a great impact. Nor could the spinners. As a result, the Kiwis did not have much of a problem in attaining the target.
Though the Kiwis will be mighty happy with their performance, the Indian team would like to forget it as a bad dream. They will hope to wake up in a real sense in their game at Cardiff.
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