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ICC World Cup 2019, India vs New Zealand Preview: Clash of the unbeaten | Cricket News

NOTTINGHAM: Sometimes for a cricket writer, weather situation and met forecasts become more important than the form of the players or team combinations. It’s been raining here almost continuously for the last three-four days and the forecast for Thursday does not inspire hope.


India are scheduled to play New Zealand in a World Cup league match on Thursday but with the sun on a long holiday, there is a serious question mark over the game.


Light showers have been predicted throughout the day which means the ground will not get any sunshine to get dried up and be safe for play. If ground conditions are not fit for play, officials will not endanger player safety. The grim possibility of the match getting abandoned without a ball being bowled is looming large.


A scenario like this, when the teams are forced to remain indoors because of the inclement weather, presents a different challenge for the players. They need to keep themselves primed for the contest but it’s not so easy when you are off proper training.


Besides, this is a World Cup where the stakes are very high. The format of this World Cup is such that no match can be taken lightly, especially in the first half of the tournament. The players would be keen to prepare themselves in the best possible way. But as batting coach Sanjay Bangar said, the chance of rain hampering a game or two is always there in England and the players have to adjust and move on.


The Indian team had a curtailed practice session at the historic Trent Bridge. Thankfully, the 90 minutes that the team was at the ground, there was no drizzle. But as soon as the players walked off the middle, it returned to add to the woes of the groundstaff who were fighting what looked like a losing battle.


With opener Shikhar Dhawan out for at least the next three-four games, KL Rahul is set to step in as Rohit Sharma‘s opening partner. In the unlikely event of the match happening on Thursday, either Dinesh Karthik or Vijay Shankar is likely to be part of the eleven. With the main net too soggy to be operational, the Indian team trained at the two side nets with Karthik, Shankar, Rahul and Kedar Jadhav practising throwdowns.


Coach Ravi Shastri, who was keeping a close eye from behind the nets, was joined by captain Virat Kohli for an animated conversation. The chat was mostly Shastri talking and Kohli listening intently.


When the drizzle stopped, the groundsmen removed the main pitch cover to let them have a look at it. Shastri and bowling coach Bharat Arun came down to peer at the track. Kohli, at the other end, felt the pitch with his hand. Even as the batters took turns to practise, Dhawan, with a hoodie firmly in place to ward off the chill, watched from close by. How heartbreaking it must be for the opener to be forced to sit out just as he was warming up to the challenge. He is one player who loves to perform on the big stage.


New Zealand, who were scheduled to practise in the afternoon, had to make do with some indoor training. While a full game looks improbable, the teams are looking at the possibility of a curtailed game. While India and New Zealand have had a combative past in limited-overs cricket, going by form and the talent at their command, India will start as slight favourites. They will also draw confidence from their 4-1 series win in New Zealand earlier this year.


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