World T20 Preview: India look to experiment against England

Colombo: India will go into their first big match of the World T20 competition and sadly enough, the result won’t matter. The format of the tournament is such, that each group has one really weak team, which means that in most cases by the time the stronger outfits meet, they have already qualified for the Super 8s and the match has been rendered inconsequential.

It really is probably the most boring way to start a tournament, but on the up side, it gives the faltering Indian team another chance to experiment and get their playing XI right before the tougher, meaningful matches and that’s exactly was Mahendra Singh Dhoni plans to do.

The England match is Dhoni's last chance to get it right: AFP

“Won’t call it experiment but there will be few changes from the XI that played against the Afghanistan in the first game. You will have to wait to know the final XI but yes there will be changes,” said Dhoni.

It’s the way things should be and it will serve two purposes. One, it will give India a good look at the form of their reserves like Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Ashok Dinda and Manoj Tiwary and it will also put the other players on alert.

It’s clear that there are places up for grabs in the Indian team. The openers are struggling and it was interesting to see Irfan Pathan have a long hit in the nets on Saturday with coach Duncan Fletcher keeping a close eye on him throughout the session. Could India be contemplating sending him up the order?

Tiwary has been in good form recently and would love to get into the side – no matter what the batting position is. Will we see one of the openers get a break? Rohit Sharma has opened for India in the past and he could be asked to do that once again. That will give Tiwary the chance to come and bat in the middle order.

But India’s real dilemma has been the bowling attack. The regular bowlers have not made an impact and the death bowling has been poor. R Ashwin alone has stood out as a bowler that the opposition has respected.

Dhoni has been asked time and again whether he will consider playing five bowlers. But so far he has resisted the urge. It might happen tonight though.

“It may happen in this game but what we also have to see is what happened in the practice game against Pakistan where we played with 12 players that included five frontline bowlers. We still lost,” said Dhoni. “So we will have to see that if the fifth bowler who comes in will really make a difference. In the first warm up game against Sri Lanka, it helped having played seven batsmen. Rohit batted well and won us the game.

“It’s a difficult one and we will have to see how it goes in the game against England and them we will be in a better position to describe whether we HAVE to play with the five bowlers or we can manage with four”, he added.

So that means Chawla or Harbhajan may get a go instead of one of the seamers – to just change the balance of attack. Against England, it might even work.

But Dhoni and the team realise that it is pretty much their last chance to get things right. After this India run into Australia, South Africa and Pakistan and there will be no chance to take things easy.

“We have the right kind of momentum,” said the Indian skipper. “When you are playing in tournaments like the World Cup or the Champions Trophy you will meet better team in the later stages of the tournament. So it’s not a worry, it’s just that we have to play our best cricket.”