All Indian cricketers to play warm-up match in Leicester￼
The visiting Indian players will all be seen in action in the upcoming four-day tour match against Leicestershire starting on Thursday, with some of them set to take field for the opposition team in order to ensure that all of them have had match-time in England.
The four-day tour match for the visiting Indians is the only game that they will get to prepare for the fifth and final Test of their series in England last year, which was postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases in their camp.
India will also be playing limited-overs cricket matches on this tour of England but the immediate focus will be on the preparations for red-ball cricket assignment — the fifth and final Test versus England — which gives them an opportunity of winning their first-ever series since 2007 in the Old Blighty.
India currently lead the five-match series for the Pataudi Trophy 2-1, having won the second and fourth Tests by 151 runs and 157 runs respectively, with England recording a big win by an innings and 76 runs in the third Test.
With crucial points of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) at stake, the Indians do not want to leave any stone unturned as far as preparations are concerned. In order to ensure that, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Prasidh Krishna and Jasprit Bumrah will be taking the field for Leicestershire in order to ensure that every member of the Indian squad has had match time and practise.
It will also be important for the Indians to play red-ball cricket since some of them are coming off long breaks — including former captain Virat Kohli and star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja — while most of them were also busy playing white-ball cricket which includes the high-pressure Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 tournament.
The last time India played Test cricket was in March this year, when they hosted Sri Lanka for a short series but the one in which they were hardly challenged. The Indian team will have to be wary of the fact that England are a side on the mend under the new leadership pair of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, who have tasted initial success against New Zealand in the ongoing series at home.
India will also be without two of their key players, KL Rahul and Ravichandran Ashwin. While KL Rahul had suffered a groin injury and missed the five-match home T20I series against South Africa, Ravichandran Ashwin missed the flight to England since he was found coronavirus positive right before the team’s departure.
The absence of KL Rahul will be felt more as the right-handed batsmen not only is the new vice-captain of the Indian Test side with Rohit Sharma at the helm, but also due to the fact that the Karnataka batsman was immensely successful in the first four Tests of the series, sitting at the third spot behind Joe Root and the new Indian skipper Rohit Sharma.
In the absence of KL Rahul, India have two other options to pick among Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal. The right-handed Shubman Gill — who won the IPL 2022 with Gujarat Titans and also contributed with big runs — last played Test cricket in December 2021. On the other hand, Mayank Agarwal had a successful run against New Zealand at home but did not play against Sri Lanka and South Africa owing to an injury.