Leics vs Indians – tour game

The high-decibel welcome that usually greets them on tours in England is missing, but the Indians will look beyond that when they begin their four-day exhibition game in Leicester on Thursday, aiming to build up the intensity ahead of the Edgbaston test next week. The warm-up will be a 12-a-side, non-first-class match, but it is the only chance for Rohit Sharma’s team to prepare for the Birmingham Test, which their head coach Rahul Dravid has called significant with World Test Championship points at stake.

The Test is the rescheduled fifth game of the 2021 Pataudi Trophy. It was originally scheduled to be played at Old Trafford last September, but was postponed indefinitely following a Covid-19 scare and eventually moved to the summer of 2022. four Tests, India led the series 2-1 and have the chance to win their first Test series in England since 2007, when Dravid was their captain.
Outlining the challenge the Indians face this summer, Dravid recently said England were “a little different” from the team they had in 2021 when they were “on the back foot”. What Dravid meant by different was the fearless show England put on in the first two Tests of their home series against New Zealand, under the new captain-coach combination of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
India has not played a test match since March, when they dominated Sri Lanka at home with a 2-0 series win. Apart from Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill, none of the Indian players have played red ball cricket since then, with the majority of the rest playing in IPL 2022, followed by the home T20I series against South Africa. The Leicester tour match will also be the first time several key players likely to make the first XI in Edgbaston, including Rohit, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur, will play since the IPL .
While the Indian selectors chose a 17-man test squad in May, there will be only 15 Indians in the tour competition. The two absent are offspinner R Ashwin, who is recovering at home in Chennai after testing positive for Covid-19 recently, and opener KL Rahul, who was supposed to lead India in the T20Is in South Africa but had to withdraw from the series with a groin injury. . The BCCI has not yet sent a medical update on either Ashwin or Rahul.
Also unknown is the identity of Rohit’s deputy, with Rahul originally named vice-captain for the England Tests. Rahul was a key batter for India last year when he and Rohit helped India set up a solid opening platform. Incidentally, Rahul was originally a backup midfielder on last year’s tour before injuries to Gill and Mayank Agarwal gave him a chance in his original role. Rahul was the third highest finisher in the first four tests, behind Joe Root and Rohit.
The importance of a tour game can be measured by Rahul’s success in last year’s warm-up, where he scored a century against a County Select XI. This week, Gill will similarly take the opportunity to open his case alongside Rohit. Gill last played a Test match in December 2021, in the home series against New Zealand. Injuries kept him out of the South Africa tour and the Sri Lanka home tests that followed.

The game is also important for senior batting pair Pujara and Kohli for several reasons. Pujara was dropped for the Sri Lanka series but to use Dravid’s words, the Saurashtra batter “opened” the roster door to make a comeback earlier this summer with his stellar form for Sussex in Division 2 of the County Championship. Pujara scored 720 runs in eight innings with an average of 120.00, including four hundred, including two double-tons. While the selectors and Indian team management are eager to showcase young batters, Pujara has kept himself relevant and pushed his case based on both runs and his vast experience at number 3.

As for Kohli, the tour race, followed by the test, gives him another chance to overcome a lengthy battle for consistency. He has endured a century of drought in international cricket, which has now stretched over 100 matches across the three formats. In the IPL, Kohli had emphasized the importance of taking breaks from the game to keep himself refreshed in the long run. Back on the field after being outfitted with the South African T20Is, Kohli will once again be hungry to force himself on bowlers, an element of his percussion that hasn’t always been apparent in recent months.

Jadeja will also be looking for a positive return to the field after a rib injury prematurely ended a difficult IPL season. He was named captain of Chennai Super Kings on the eve of the season and resigned mid-season, with his team’s results reflecting his own poor bat and ball form. However, Jadeja remains a vital cog for India as the spinning all-rounder, a role he has excelled in overseas testing in recent years – he played all four tests in England last year, his solidity with the bat kept R Ashwin out the door in the race to be the only spinner besides four quicks.

One difference from last year and now is that India no longer has to live in a biosecure bubble, which both players and coaches had identified as a major challenge, and one with potential performance implications. Like last year’s touring game in Durham, the Indians are expected to field all their players – with the exception of the reserves – including a few of those who show up for Leicester.

Match times: 1st session: 10:30-12:30; 2nd session: 1:10 PM – 3:10 PM; 3rd session: 15.30-17.30 hrs
Where to watch: On Foxes TV, Leicestershire’s official YouTube channel

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