Confident India take on Leicestershire

This will be the Indians’ second T20 game after their 50-over contest against Kent Spitfires too was reduced to a similar affair due to rain.

After an easy outing against Sussex, whom the visitors defeated comfortably by six wickets, India survived by the skin of their teeth against Kent on Friday, with Munaf Patel bowling an excellent final over. MSDhoni and company, who had a closed nets session on Sunday and kept the media at bay for reasons best known to them, can expect stiffer competition from the newly-crowned domestic T20 champions.

The Leicestershire Foxes, who defeated Somerset on Saturday to emerge champions in the final at Edgbaston, are likely to field a strong side in a match that will also be the last home match for veteran wicket-keeper Paul Nixon, who has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. “It’s always nice to go out on your home turf,” said the 40-year-old.

The arrival of fresh legs and minds seems to have induced new energy into the Indian side which, it appeared, had forgotten how to win. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been in the forefront of India’s batting charge in the last two matches and the young duo would be expected to carry its good work forward, given the form of some of the leading players.

Sachin Tendulkar, who sat out against Kent, is due a big one while Dhoni and Suresh Raina haven’t got their act together yet. The two destructive batsmen have one last chance to get amongst the runs and regain confidence ahead of the real tests. Parthiv Patel substituted for Gautam Gambhir in the game against Sussex and did his cause no harm with a well-compiled half century. The Gujarat batsman is sure to open again on Monday, either with Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid, with Gambhir still far from fit.

The five-bowler policy – three seamers and two spinners -- has worked well so far and it’s unlikely they will deviate from that strategy, though leg-spinner Amit Mishra still remains a bit of a gamble. RP Singh is another bowler who has failed to inspire confidence despite taking six wickets in the two matches. Against Sussex, the last two of his four scalps came in the last over while he was too expensive during the Kent game. Bringing fellow UP bowler Praveen Kumar in place of the left-arm paceman wouldn’t be a bad move.

For Leicester, Joshua Cobb and Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq have done well at the top of the order with 374 and 263 runs respectively. Cobb, especially, has been devastating with a strike rate of just under 157. The 21-year-old can also be more than handy with his spinners as he proved against Somerset with a match-winning four-wicket haul. Former Aussie all-rounder Andrew McDonald is their top-scorer with 584 runs and England’s next best hope James Taylor too has been impressive with 337 runs.

Led by skipper Matthew Hoggard, a former England paceman of distinction, Leicester have a variety of bowling options in South African left-arm spinner Claude Henderson, Razzaq, left-arm paceman Harry Gurney and McDonald.

India will once again be expected to win, but Leicester are more than capable of delivering an upset.

Teams (from):

Leicestershire Foxes: Matthew Hoggard (capt), Abdul Razzaq, Joshua Cobb, Will Jefferson, Jacques du Toit, Paul Nixon, Andrew McDonald, James Taylor, Wayne White, Claude Henderson, Jigar Naik, Matthew Boyce, Harry Gurney.

Indians: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, RP Singh, Munaf Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Varun Aaron.
Hours of play (IST): 1900 hours-end of play.

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