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Friday, March 11, 2011

Team India will go through acid test against Proteas ahead of QF

Team India's serious World Cup campaign starts from tomorrow with the match against Proteas. So far India were playing weaker teams in the tournament and yet they struggled. So Indians will be under tremendous pressure going into this match. India have lot of worries in  bowling, fielding, running between the wickets and top-order batting but remember India have little edge over Proteas according to the statistics of recent times and that suggests out of last 10 ODIs against Proteas, India won 6 of them. Something which can give boost to the Indian team but over all record of India against Proteas is poor which suggests out of 65 ODIs Proteas won 39. But when we talk about recent performance Indian team have little edge. 

 India's main worry in this World Cup is its bowling. So far bowling failed to pick up early wickets except for one match against Ireland. Indian bowlers are certainly struggling on the flat pitches of sub-continent. India's main worry are its regular spinner in Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla, both failed to impress so far in the tournament. Harbhajan Singh have picked up only 2 wickets in 4 games although his economy is quite good but remember he is attacking bowler and expected to pick wickets rather than containing the batsmen. What to talk about leggie Piyush Chawla, 2 top wicket-takers in the tournament are leg-spinners and this guy Chawla struggled to pick the wickets in the conditions which favours the spinners and his economy is also poor. India is clearly struggling with 3rd seamer as well and captain Dhoni is completely confused in picking up right combination and that confusion reflects in his statements. I believe they have to continue with 2 pace -2 spin combination and they must replace Chawla with Ashwin in the game against South Africa just to check whether Ashwin fits the bill or not ahead of the knockout stage. I think  not playing Ashwin so far, Dhoni did it deliberately. I think he wanted to introduce him in a big match like this as a surprise package and I believe this can prove master-stroke as well.

Fielding and running between the wickets is also very big area of concern. India struggled badly in the outfield. India fielders allowed opposition batsmen to pick singles easily and also allow them to convert singles into 2s and 2s into 3s and thats not going to help because the opposition team supposed to get 270 in normal circumstances is ending up with 300 or more means 30-40 runs extra just because of poor fielding and extra pressure on Indian batting as well. India has dropped quite a few catches as well. If we look at the match against England Strauss was dropped by Harbhajan when he was new to the crease later in the same match Virat Kohli dropped Ian Bell and both these batsmen took the match away from India. Had those 2 catches taken then I believe result of that match would have been different. So lot to improve in the fielding and I think India have to employ faster fielders on the boundaries and slow fielders in the close-in because singles are anyways available even though field is up but it is important to stop extra runs which are taken when ball goes near the boundary and slow fielders don't able to throw the ball back quickly enough. India have to improve running between the wickets as well. So far we have seen India clearly struggled in this area as well in the tournament. In the first match Tendulkar got out because of poor calling. I think calling have to be precise and batsmen have to work hard in nets to set the good rhythm with their partners while running between the wickets, so that they can be in a sync with their partners in match while running.

Indian top-order batsmen are also struggling and they have to come good now, because one failure can cost dearly. Sachin, Shewag, Gambhir and Kohli have to bat well and out of these four, tow players have to take the anchor role. I think Sachin and Kohli have to play the role of anchor and Gambhir and Sehwag have to go after the bowling and that will be ideal situation for the middle-order batsmen where you have hitters like Yuvraj, Dhoni and Pathan who can easily capitalise on the good start given by the top-order batsmen. So Indian top-order have to take some responsibility and one or two of them have to carry their bat through the innings. We have seen how Indian team struggled to chase scores in last two matches where top-order failed. However, Yuvraj's form with both bat and ball is a big plus for India.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni(Captain/WK), Virender Sehwag(Vice-Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel. Gary Kirsten(Coach)

Talking about Proteas, I think they are the most balanced side in the World Cup.   Amla and DeVilliers are in great nick and batting looks very good as they possess one of the best batting line-up in the world which includes star batsmen like Jacques Kallis. However Kallis is not among the runs so far in the tournament but he is big match player and against India he is terriffic and in the match against India he will definitely going to make a big score because he loves Indian bowling very much..Proteas won  their first two matches  convincingly but lost to England in a cliffhanger and that will be playing on their mind in this match and they will certainly play better cricket compare to the match against England and will not going to repeat those mistakes which they did against England. Proteas lower-order batting is a bit of concern which often cracks under-pressure and they have to work on this weakness. I think they must promote Morne Wan Vyk up the  order and send Kallis or DeVilliers down the order just to consolidate the lower middle-order.  

Proteas are the best bowling side in the tournament in terms of pace and accuracy. They have great variation in their bowling department. They have two terrific opening fast bowlers in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and Indian batting is quite vulnerable against genuine pace and bounce. They possess great spin weapons in leg-spinner Imran Tahir, left-arm spinner Robin Peterson and off-spinner Johan Botha but since Tahir is injured I think they will go in with Johan Botha. They can also think of playing Lonwabo Tsotsobe who had great success against India in the last series and pace is also the Indian weakness so there is no harm in going with pace attack. Felding is the Proteas biggest asset and I must say Proteas starts as favourites to win this game. Imran Tahir is the joint second leading wicket-taker in the tournament and he was trump card for Proteas in previous matches but I think he play or don't play doesn't matter in the match against India because Indians play spin well.

Greame Smith(Captain), Hashim Amla, Jacque Kallis, AB DeVilliers(WK), Morne Van Wyk(WK), Jean-Paul Duminy, Collin Ingram, Faf DuPlessis, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Imran Tahir, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell. Corrie Van Zyl(Coach)

Wicket at VCA Stadium in Nagpur will going to be a belter and will allow score in excess of 300 if teams bat well. I think toss will not going to be a factor in this match because wicket will going to be the same for entire 100 overs and there is no problem of dew as well because we are in mid-March. VCA stadium have the history of big scores. So it will going to be run-feast for the batsmen and nightmare for the bowlers especially Indian bowlers who need some assistance from the wicket.

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