The weather has been a major talking point so far in this year's World Cup in England and Wales and by the look of things, it is not going to get any better in the upcoming week. Several games have already been affected by rain and three abandoned in two weeks of action so far.
The Pakistan-Sri Lanka match at the County Ground in Bristol was the first one to get affected on June 7 with the next two being on June 10 and 11 between West Indies and South Africa and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively. Sri Lanka have been the worst hit because of the no results so far and things look bleak for them from here on to qualify for the semi-finals.
However, it is not just the Lankans, who need to worry about the weather now as the Indians might be the next to face its wrath on Thursday. After two wins, India were all set to take on a spirited New Zealand side at Trent Bridge in Nottingham but things don't look that bright as of now.
Till now, Kohli & Co. have only needed to cancel training sessions Southampton and London prior to the first two games but it could be one full game in Nottingham thanks to incessant rain. It is one of the cities which has seen constant drizzle and wind and it is likely to continue on Thursday when India are supposed to take on the Black Caps. If weather predictions are anything to go by, it is likely to be 13 degrees tomorrow with 83 per cent chances of precipitation and it is likely to rain till 7 PM in the night in the United Kingdom.
This spells bad news for India because after the high of the first two games, a win against the Kiwis would have taken them to the top of the pile but a shared result would mean New Zealand remain on top due to a better net run-rate.
But, even if the game goes ahead, India would have to sort out a few issues.
India's alternative strategy in the absence of an injured Shikhar Dhawan will be put through a stern test by a feisty New Zealand attack ready to ask a few probing questions.
The contest, which could be a curtailed one due to inclement weather surely, will have a quality Black Caps seam attack ready to make life difficult for a new opening pair that is likely to feature KL Rahul at the top alongside Rohit Sharma.
Dhawan has been ruled out of at least the next three games owing to a hairline fracture in his left thumb.
New Zealand have had a good record against India at global events. Kane Williamson's men would be more than determined to win four-on-trot and maintain their pole position.
Dhawan has unintentionally forced Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri to go for a tactical rejig despite convincing performances in the first two games against South Africa and Australia.
If being forced to tinker with a successful opening combination that has cumulatively scored 4681 runs is a bit unsettling, there is also a positive side to the Dhawan injury saga.
It has provided India with an opportunity to test how good their Plan B is.
Shankar's all-round abilities are pitted against Karthik's experience.
The thick cloud cover and damp conditions could also bring in Mohammed Shami into the equation at the expense of one of the wrist spinners.
In case both Shankar and Karthik find a place in the playing XI, then Kedar Jadhav will be the one to miss out.
The situation demands technical nous from skipper Kohli and more so from coach Ravi Shastri, known to be a shrewd tactical operator.
It couldn't have been a more ideal time to go for such a rejig given that the tournament is still in its second week and one of the bounciest yet good batting tracks is on offer on Thursday.
This might not be the best of circumstances to open the batting but the talented Rahul will be determined to make this opportunity count.
(With PTI inputs)