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Spotlight on fitness as India take on Australia in warm-up tie

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Adelaide: India will have to recover quickly from the blow of losing pace spearhead Ishant Sharma even as the fitness of Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja will be under spotlight as they take on hosts Australia in the opening warm-up game of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
The defending champions failed to win a single game in the recently concluded tri- nation ODI series as they miserably flopped in both departments, raising doubts if the team is well-equipped to defend its title under prevalent conditions.

Since the match won’t have official status, India can test all their batsmen as well as bowlers in tomorrow’s as well as next warm-up tie against Afghanistan.

Ahead of their campaign, the team has lost Ishant due to knee injury, making the job even tougher for the struggling side. He had not played much of the Test and ODI series but the lanky bowler had experience of negotiating the conditions.

The good news is that swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar and opener Rohit Sharma are fit to play in the quadrennial event.

Fast bowler Mohit Sharma is most likely to replace Ishant in the squad and it will not be a surprise if he is picked ahead of wayward Umesh Yadav. Mohit impressed everyone with his bowling against England at Perth.

Rohit, when on song, is a treat to watch and it will be a test as to how well he has recuperated from hamstring injury.

Already when the batting line-up was struggling badly, India needs Rohit and Virat Kohli to fire if they harbour hopes of doing well.

Ravindra Jadeja, a key element in skipper MS Dhoni’s scheme of things has also recovered and eyes will be on him as well after recovering from — injury.

Having him in the side gives the team an option of having more arsenal. The team will also have to decide if off-spinner R Ashwin was a better choice or Axar Patel.

Despite his continuous failure, Shikhar Dhawan is likely to open the batting and these two games will be the last chances that he will get to cement his place in the playing XI. There was experiment with Virat Kohli’s batting slot in the tri-series and the management also has to decide quickly on giving him a final slot.

All this has to be decided tomorrow and on Tuesday when the team plays minnows Afghanistan in the final warm up game before the big clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on February 15.

PTI

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