Warm-up games are crucial to build confidence and momentum: Shane Watson
Watson reckoned teams must aim to play the warm-ups with an XI as close as possible to the one they will eventually field in the tournament proper.
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Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson and former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir have highlighted the criticality of warm-up games in the build-up to the ODI World Cup, which commences from October 5 in India.
Watson reckoned teams must aim to play the warm-ups with an XI as close as possible to the one they will eventually field in the tournament proper, as it will give them a chance to build momentum and provide better role clarity to the individuals involved.
“These warm-up games they are integral. For sure, you want to be able to play as close to your first and starting 11 for India against Australia; as close as you can. Because then you can build momentum, everyone knows what their roles are, everybody knows how to fulfill those roles. And then to play those two warm-up games, just for everyone to be able to find their feet and know exactly what those roles are,” Watson said while speaking exclusively to Star Sports as StarCast expert for ‘Mission World Cup’.
Watson also laid emphasis on the No. 5 position in ODI cricket, which remains a question mark for India due to a spate of injuries and the player unavailability issues. However, both KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer are now fit and available, with Iyer ready to occupy the No. 4 position and the No. 5 position being a toss-up between the first-choice Rahul and his backup in southpaw Ishan Kishan.
“The number 5 position is so important for any team, especially because that is one of the biggest question marks for India, and that number 8 spot. So, for sure those two positions in particular, but it's really important to build that confidence and build that momentum even in those practice matches,” Watson said.
“People don't realise how important those practice matches are. I know how important it was in 2007, in the lead up to the first game, our confidence in the Aussie team was a bit low but the first practice match we played against England we really started to build our confidence into that 2007 world cup campaign. So, you certainly can't take those games lightly. They are very important just to bring everyone together and start building that momentum,” he added.
Watson’s co-panellist Gambhir spoke on the importance of the warm-up matches for India before the World Cup. “Massive, especially from, and I keep repeating, from number 5 and number 8's point of view, what combination India is going to play and whatever combination India needs to play, I think the most important thing is they play the same team that they are supposed to play on the 8th against Australia," said Gambhir.
The warm-up games will be played across three Indian venues - Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad - from September 29 to October 3. India will play England in Guwahati on September 30 before taking on Netherlands in Thiruvananthapuram on October 3.