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India's biggest test in Eng: No matches for one-and-a-half months (lead)

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New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) On its upcoming tour of England, the Indian cricket team’s biggest challenge will be the one-and-a-half month, between World Test Championship (WTC) final and Test series against the host, when it will have no competitive cricket.

Although Virat Kohli’s team may get enough time to get acclimatised for the five-Test series against England, starting August 4, following the WTC final against New Zealand from June 18-22, no matches have been scheduled for the visitors.

The Indian team will have to play only intra-squad matches to prepare, this was confirmed by an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement last month.

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The Indian team was supposed to play India A in warm-up fixtures as per initial plans. However, the ECB last month announced that the India A tour had been postponed.

“The India men’s team will instead tour with a larger squad to prepare for, and use during, the five-match Test series,” the ECB statement had said.

The Indian team will get to play two four-day intra-squad matches.

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With just 24 players, including four reserves, available, the team will barely be able to make two teams for the two warm-up matches.

Last time in 2018, the Indians played a three-day game prior to the Test series against Essex.

The number of warm-up matches ahead of overseas series has gone down in recent times due to a packed schedule, which doesn’t allow long stays in any country. This has adversely affected batsmen touring England as they have been found wanting against extra ball movement in English conditions.

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However, this time India will be spending three and a half months in England due to the twin assignment. But due to Covid-19 pandemic there will be no games in this period when players could have polished their skill.

India will also get very little time to prepare for the WTC final as they will straightaway enter the game with just about four days’ practice, unlike opponents New Zealand who will have played two Test matches against England before the WTC final.

To India’s advantage, Kane Williamson’s Kiwis will be forced to take field thrice in Test matches in 17 days, leaving them exhausted.

Williamson’s team plays England on June 2 in the first Test. It will be followed by the second Test on June 10 before the WTC final gets underway on June 18.

India are likely to leave on June 2. They then undergo 10 days of quarantine before they have 3-4 days of practice.

–IANS

kh/qma

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