India have one more tour match before they get started with the real deal. After their first tour match dwindled to a draw, there's one more chance to get their bowlers in tune.
Venue: County Ground, Derby
Date: Tuesday, July 1 to Thursday, July 3
Time: 11 a.m. BST; 3:30 p.m. IST
Weather: AccuWeather forecasts some rain for the first day, but the match has the all clear for the other two days.
While India’s batsmen, young and old, were impressive in their outing against Leicestershire, their bowlers struggled. Although conditions were tough, there was a little bit of juice in the pitch that the Indians failed to exploit entirely. Before the first Test begins next week, India need to figure out which bowling combination will work best for them.
Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh were the only two bowlers who managed to take wickets in the first tour match, but Sharma's scalps came at an expensive economy rate of 7.11. In fact, Sharma was so poor that, according to ESPNCricinfo, he became a source of bemusement for a group of Indian fans at Grace Road.
Cricinfo's Nagraj Gollapudi noted: "He effectively became a figure of ridicule for a group of Indian fans at the Bennett End, who endlessly heckled him each time he walked back to his bowling mark."
That is why this tour match is so important for India. Not only do their bowlers need to find their rhythm, they also need to boost their confidence. With Sri Lanka’s quicks having out-bowled England’s in the recently concluded series, it is certainly possible for touring teams to do well on these shores, but it won’t be easy for India.
The weather forecast for this outing looks much better than the first match and while there might be one or two interruptions, the whole squad should get some playing time under their belt. Like Leicestershire, Derbyshire have had a tough time in the second division of the County Championship this season. They have won just one out of nine matches, drawing four and losing four.
If the intention was to present India with weak opposition, that goal has been achieved, and there is now an added psychological dent due to the underperformance against struggling teams. That is precisely why this tour match is of the utmost importance for India’s visiting party.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Pankaj Singh, Wriddhiman Saha.
Not yet announced
Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a stellar season in the Indian Premier League, but things have gotten a whole lot harder for the young star. He had figures of 7-1-46-0 in the first tour match after being tasked with opening the bowling. That he has immense ability cannot be disputed, but whether he'll learn to use it in conditions that favour him remains to be seen.
Mark Footitt is the leading wicket-taker for Derbyshire this season with 35 scalps at an average of 21.42. Considering the way India's batsmen performed in the first outing, he can now test his mettle against some of the best in the world.