India begin their sojourn in UK with a two-match T20I series against Ireland on Wednesday in Dublin. This will be the first time after the South Africa series earlier this year that India will field a full-strength team. All the eyes will be on skipper Virat Kohli who is coming back after a neck injury. Apart from Kohli, the Indian team has a few more match-winners who could turn on the heat in this series.
Cricketnext takes a look at these players:
The Indian captain will be back in action in international cricket after a hiatus of four months. Kohli had a good IPL season, scoring 530 runs at an average of more than 48. His last T20 international for India was against South Africa in the month of February. Kohli had a disappointing outing in the two T20 internationals against the Proteas, scoring 26 and 1. The Indian captain will be looking to get some runs under his belt against an inexperienced Ireland bowling unit to warm up ahead of the limited overs series against England.
Rohit Sharma made his international debut in an ODI against Ireland way back in 2007. The Indian vice-captain will hope to get his form with the bat back on track in the place where it all started. Sharma comes into the series on the back of his worst ever IPL season, where he scored 286 runs at an average of 23.83. Sharma’s last T20 assignment for India was in Sri Lanka, where he led the ‘Men in Blue’ to the Nidahas Trophy title. He registered impressive knocks of 89 and 56 against Bangladesh in the tri-series. The Indian opener will look to put pressure on the Ireland bowlers at the top of the order to give good starts to the team.
Suresh Raina returned to the T20I fold earlier this year in South Africa, after being left out of the limited overs team for almost a year. Since his comeback, the southpaw has scored 192 runs in 8 matches at an average of 24, which is not something to write home about. Raina though has a strike-rate of above 140 in these matches and it seems he has been given the license to go for the kill by the team management. He comes into the series on the back of a successful IPL season, having scored 445 runs at an average of 37. Raina though needs to contribute more in Team India colours and his return to the ODI squad should also bolster his confidence.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar could be India’s trump card on the tour due to his ability to the move the ball both in the air and off the pitch. The conditions in Ireland and in England will suit his style of bowling and the Meerut lad would look to cash in on conducive playing conditions. Kumar had an injury-ridden IPL season where he picked up 9 wickets in 12 matches, despite the Sunrisers reaching the final of the tournament. Bhuvneshwar, who sat out the Nidahas Trophy and Afghanistan Test, had a good outing against South Africa in the shortest format, picking up 7 wickets in the three matches.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been one part of Team India’s successful spin-twins, along with Kuldeep Yadav, in limited overs cricket over the past year. Chahal though had a poor outing in the IPL, picking up only 12 wickets in 14 matches, which are his lowest returns in the tournament since 2014. The leg-break bowler had a good time in the tri-series in Sri Lanka, picking up 8 wickets in 5 matches. Chahal though will be tested in conditions which do not help spinners. A good showing against the Irish, who aren’t adept at playing quality spin bowling, will give much needed confidence to the tweaker ahead of tougher assignments against the English.