A likelihood of rain and an injury to Shikhar Dhawan have unsettled the Indian campaign just after it had got on a roll. A strong New Zealand will look to exploit the situation when the two sides meet in Nottingham on Thursday. Mint tells you what to look out for in Game 18 of the World Cup.

ICC’s gamble on a dry summer fails

“We put men on the moon, so why can’t we have a reserve day?" asked Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes after his team dropped a vital point against lowly Sri Lanka. With three games washed out, the ICC has sought to justify not provisioning a reserve day, claiming it wasn’t feasible. That’s hard to swallow because there’s a gap of at least three days between games for every team, unless it’s at the same venue. That allows enough time for a reserve day as well as travelling to another venue. The administrators banked on a dry summer and the miscalculation threatens to mess up the tournament.


Toss becomes paramount

It’s been pouring in Nottingham and heavy rain is forecast for the match day. If it’s a truncated game, the toss becomes paramount because the team batting second usually has a distinct advantage. While they can have a clear plan of action, the side bowling second will likely struggle with a wet ball. The moisture-laden pitch, kept under covers before the game, could also aid the side bowling first.

India unsettled by injury

The top order coming good was the best news for India as they beat two strong teams in a convincing manner. But the hairline fracture to Shikhar Dhawan’s thumb, which rules him out for at least two games, has upset the apple cart. K.L. Rahul will have to move to the opener’s slot, just when he was looking great at number four. Rahul is going to be uneasy as he had a horrendous time as an opener in England last year.

Revolving door at number four

The original sin of leaving out Rishabh Pant, who had Test centuries in England and Australia, besides a terrific IPL, now comes back to bite India. Neither of Dhawan’s likely replacements, Vijay Shankar or Dinesh Karthik, has had comparable success. It will be a gamble with long odds to push one of them into No. 4, traditionally the slot for a team’s most reliable batsman. India might be better off playing five bowlers, with Mohammed Shami adding to the seam bowling strength on a sticky wicket. Go-to man M.S. Dhoni will then have to make the balidaan of moving up to face the music at No.4.

Bring in Pant Asap

India want to wait and see if Dhawan’s finger heals in time for the semi-final. That’s because he can’t be brought back once he’s replaced, unless another player gets hurt. It may be better, however, to focus on the job at hand. By inducting Pant early, India would give him time to settle while also backing Rahul to succeed as an opener. For now, Trent Boult and Co., who blew away India in a warm-up game, will be rubbing their hands in anticipation. New Zealand have beaten India in all three of their previous World Cup encounters in England. Can India buck the trend on Thursday?

Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.

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