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Asia Cup Cricket: India to face Nepal at Pallekele in Sri Lanka

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Game time is at a premium for teams as the World Cup edges closer. India’s key players have either been kept out by lengthy injuries or have been periodically rested during the last two T20 World Cup years. And in that respect, the Sri Lankan monsoon isn’t helping.

For example, it remains to be seen how pace ace Jasprit Bumrah holds up after bowling 10 overs in a competitive match or how Rohit Sharma sees him dovetail with the rest of the bowling line-up in the game’s different phases.

The batters too need to switch to the rhythms of the 50-over game and discover the dynamics of batting with each other. Among them, Shubman Gill is in need of a good hit-out, tailing off somewhat in the second half of the year after establishing himself as an all-format player.

He has a solitary half-century in his last seven ODI innings and a few misfires now could just set the cat among the pigeons.

He, along with Rohit and Virat Kohli, have a tempo-setting job at the top of the order and will need to ensure the middle-order isn’t always called to put out fires, even though Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya did so expertly in the last game.

India are aware of their batting insecurities and it is part of the reason why they have to field Shardul Thakur as an all-rounder at No.8 over a pure bowler in Mohammed Shami.

This World Cup is least of Nepal’s concerns. They will have an eye on the next 14-team edition of 2027. And it is not everyday they get to play against the big boys of international cricket at full strength.

In a way, it is validation for their rapid recent rise. They made it here by winning the ACC Premier Cup in April-May and gave a decent account of themselves in the opener with the new ball even if their fielding veered from the exquisite to crude. A truncated game, as it seems likely, would help bridge the talent and experience deficit between the two sides.

Squads:

India Squad: Rohit Sharma(c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan(w), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Suryakumar Yadav, Axar Patel, Prasidh Krishna, Tilak Varma

Nepal Squad: Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh(w), Rohit Paudel(c), Aarif Sheikh, Sompal Kami, Gulsan Jha, Dipendra Singh Airee, Kushal Malla, Sandeep Lamichhane, Karan KC, Lalit Rajbanshi, Bhim Sharki, Kishore Mahato, Sundeep Jora, Pratis GC, Arjun Saud, Mousom Dhakal

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