Indian team will have some new players for the limited overs series along with the experienced left-hander Suresh Raina  © Getty Images
Indian team will have some new players for the limited-overs series along with the experienced left-hander Suresh Raina © Getty Images

India take on Middlesex at Lord’s on Friday in a warm-up game ahead of the ODI series against England. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about the importance of this game for India’s plans.

A fresher unit would seek redemption for India in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against England. They begin their preparations with a warm-up against Middlesex at Lord’s and have the opportunity to try certain things. It won’t be an easy ride in the ODIs. Although it is a different ball game, England may still feel the momentum on their side. India have to set the tone for the series right from the first match at Lord’s.

The big news in the leadup to this game was the change in the Indian team management. Ravi Shastri comes in as the Director of Cricket with Bharat Arun, Sanjay Bangar and R Sridhar joining in. However, Trevor Penney and Joe Dawes conducted practice at Lord’s as the new faces are yet to join the side. The One-Day specialists had arrived on Monday, bringing some great promise to the ranks. This game could also be a chance to rest a few players from the Test series.

MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar may opt for that rest and it would make sense given their workload during the Tests. Perhaps an Ajinkya Rahane could also take a breather after the long series. The others would want a hit in the middle. Though Virat Kohli played all the five Tests, runs were hard to come by. He has to get back into good rhythm. The One-Day format is where he has stamped his authority and can hope to find his touch again. He may use this game to get that back.

Also, Shikhar Dhawan would be one man waiting to play this game. He was dropped after the third Test and now has the opportunity to come good in the ODIs. Dhawan had a great run of form last year in England during the ICC Champions Trophy. That is something which would motivate him ahead of the vital series. Dhawan has to show that he can be consistent overseas and give the selectors that confidence ahead of the World Cup Down Under.

Coming to some of the new recruits, reports suggested that Sanju Samson was training ahead of this game and could well play. Samson can not only play as a wicketkeeper but has mainly been selected for his fearless batting. This could be a trial for him ahead of the ODIs. Dhawal Kulkarni can be brought in for Bhuvneshwar, who is likely be rested.

The only department where India may think a little is spin. Ravindra Jadeja has to get back into form and Ravichandran Ashwin, who also needs some more game time. Karn Sharma has come into the side and has to battle with these two.

Though it is a warm-up game, the implications of this could be significant in the ODI series. If the new recruits get the chance, they should impress and increase their chances of playing.

Catch all the coverage of India’s tour to England here

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)