New Delhi: India will take on West Indies in their first warm-up match at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Thursday and it gives a chance for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to utilise his bench players in order to give them a boost in confidence.
India have gone with a consistent playing XI so far in three back to back T20I series. The likes of Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pawan Negi got a solitary outing in the last 11 matches India played against Australia, Sri Lanka and the Asia Cup respectively.
Also Mohammed Shami, who missed out completely in India's campaign in T20Is recently, gets a chance to prove his fitness. Shami was included in the World Cup squad and his back up option is Bhuvi.
Interestingly, in the only game these players have played, they highlighted their strength of staying focused against minnows United Arab Emirates in a dead rubber match in Mirpur, Dhaka.
Dhoni, who claimed after winning the Asia Cup title, that the likes of the Bhajji and Negi including Shami and Ajinkya Rahane will get to spend much time in the middle in the warm-up games ahead of the main draw in the ICC World T20I given their lack of playing time.
Thursday will see India sharing its overs amongst the three fringe bowlers against a strong Windies outfit and that would be handy for them to get a lot of confidence. The clash will be mre than a warm-up and these bowlers will relish the opportunity to go against proven T20 material in Windies outfit.
Rahane too meanwhile, will get a chance batting atop and face a strong bowling line-up which will be testing. The Mumbai player played a couple of games recently in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan and needs to be ready if called in the starting XI in times of need.
Dhoni will want to see his bench strength do well against the Windies and it will also give him confidence as a skipper that his overall team is ready for challenges and could step up at any given time.
India will get to play another warm-up T20 match against South Africa after this game. So the fringe players have these two outings to give their best and play a good brand of cricket.
The match against West Indies will start at 7:30 pm IST on Thursday.
India open their World Cup main campaign against New Zealand in Nagpur on March 15.