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India looks to test bench against UAE

With only academic interest in play and pride at stake, India will make changes in its final league game

India looks to test bench against UAE - Cricket News
Indians celebrate the fall of a Sri Lanka wicket.
It’s the penultimate match of the round-robin stage of the 2016 Asia Cup, but instead of being a make-or-break affair for the participating teams, it’s a game of purely academic interest. India and UAE are going to be on the field at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur from 7.30pm local time on Thursday (March 3) safe in the knowledge that the result won’t affect anything as far as the tournament is concerned – India is already in the final, having won three in three, while UAE is at the other end of the points table, with losses in all their games so far.
India shouldn’t have any problems dragging it their way. It has been the best team on view, putting it past all opposition – all of them Test-playing teams – with varying degrees of comfort. Bangladesh kept it quiet for 15 overs in the first match before losing by 45 runs, Mohammad Amir’s first three overs rocked India, but it still won by five wickets, while Sri Lanka pushed hard but India still won by five wickets, though in the final over of their chase.
So, India has been tested, but never threatened too seriously. The bowling, led by Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah at the top, has worked wonderfully well, while Rohit Sharma in the first game and Virat Kohli since have starred in the batting efforts. One of the chief worries, Yuvraj Singh’s form, has also been dispelled to an extent, with the senior pro looking good and in the mood against Sri Lanka.

Going by their performances against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, UAE could do a bit of the same – push India. Its big star has been Amjad Javed, the captain, who has been a revelation. There have been a few good hands from some of the others, but Amjad has shone through, playing key roles in all that has been good for UAE. With the ball, especially, Amjad has been stellar, bowling at a good clip and swinging it around, returning 3-25, 2-34 and 3-36, and in the final game against the hosts, he showcased good use of the long handle as well, hitting an unbeaten 27 in 18 balls with three fours and two sixes.
 Saying that India is taking UAE lightly would be incorrect, but MS Dhoni did say after the win over Sri Lanka that he wanted to give the reserve players a go in the final game. “We'll definitely make a few changes. How many, we will see, because we still want the strength and the composition of the side to be very good. I think most of the players will definitely get a chance in the next game,” he had said.
Thankfully for India, both Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan have recovered sufficiently from their injuries and though Dhoni does have an iffy back, he hasn’t really showed it on the field. Among the men on the bench, Ajinkya Rahane had a go in Dhawan’s absence in the Pakistan game, but against a rampaging Amir, he fell for a first-ball duck. The others who will hope to make a case for themselves if given a chance are Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pawan Negi, none of whom have played a game so far. Parthiv Patel was called up as Dhoni’s backup, but according to a tournament official, he can only play if one of the main 15 is withdrawn.
India is not likely to let the intensity drop, whatever the personnel. Logically, it should be advantage India if that happens. But UAE will be quietly plotting something special. Maybe catch the Indians with their guards down, maybe find a crack in the door and push it wide open. It’s unlikely, but it’s T20 cricket, after all; so not beyond the realm of possibility.
Teams (from)

India: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.

UAE: Amjad Javed (capt), Ahmed Raza, Fahad Tariq, Farhan Ahmed, Mohammad Naveed, Mohammad Shahzad, Muhammad Kaleem, Muhammad Usman, Swapnil Patil (wk), Qadeer Ahmed, Rohan Mustafa, Saqlain Haider, Shaiman Anwar, Usman Mushtaq, Zaheer Maqsood.

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