Following Ireland’s shock upset of England, they would be high on confidence heading into the game against India at Bangalore – the venue that has produced the best matches in the tournament so far. And while now India cannot take the Irish lightly at all, they will still need to be on top of their game. The good news for Ireland is that apart from worrying about the opposition, India have some problems of their own, especially in the bowling and fielding department which they will need to try and sort out going into Sunday’s match.
Expect some changes in the bowling department. India have two options in the kitty, both come with an element of risk. Firstly, they could replace leg spinner Piyush Chawla with Ravichandran Ashwin. The problem here is that in Harbhajan Singh India already have an off-spinner, which means there will be a sameness to the attack. Having said that, Ashwin has done exceptionally well for India in the power play overs something which has been India’s bane, in fact most teams’, in recent times. But, how he performs under pressure in a World Cup scenario remains to be seen. Still, for now, he seems like a much safer option than Chawla.
The second alternative for India is to try out Ashish Nehra (if he is fit) ahead of Munaf Patel. The latter hasn’t done all that bad a job. In fact, he was India’s star performer with the ball in the opening game against Bangladesh. But, MS Dhoni seems to have a lot of faith in the left-arm seamer in spite of the fact that Nehra hasn’t been all that consistent. Also, even if fit, Nehra has always had a history of picking up injuries midway during a game. And that would be the last thing India would be need so early in the tournament. There is also a third, that of getting S.Sreesanth in, but after his wayward effort against Bangladesh that is as good as a non-existent possibility. Of the three choices, Ashwin’s seems the most sensible one and also the safest one. However, like we all know, Dhoni is prone to come up with surprises.
Whoever is selected, India will need Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, their chief bowling weapons, to be on top of their game, and they would also hope that their part-time bowlers can chip in well enough. This is because, as the Indian skipper admitted, nothing much can change about their fielding since they have too many slow movers in the field. If anything, they can better their catch and ground fielding to a certain extent. Certainly, the shoddy effort that they came up with against England last week won’t help.
The good news for India is that their batting unit is in great form. Everyone from Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir to Sachin Tendulkar is among the runs. Further, Virat Kohli and more importantly, Yuvraj Singh, have also got good scores to their credit. The Indian skipper Dhoni too has looked good. In short, the Indian batting unit will be expected to come out all guns blazing especially against a weak Ireland bowling attack. Whichever team bowls better might well end up having the upper hand.
Big test of England
Earlier in the day on Sunday, the Englishmen will take on the so far indomitable South Africans. Following the reverse against Ireland, England must beat the Proteas to keep their hopes of progressing in the World Cup alive. It will not be an easy task at all considering that South Africa at the top of their game and England have hit rock-bottom. But England will have to raise their game if they need to progress further in the tournament. A lot of things need to go right for England for them to upset South Africa.
Like India, even England have problems of plenty with their bowling and fielding. They really need James Anderson, or whoever replaces him, if that is the case, to fire if the Englishmen want to do well. Importantly, they need to hold their catches else the South Africans would really take the game away from them. Unlike England, the Proteas have everything going for them. And for England to get the better of them they would need to play out of the skins. If the Englishmen do, indeed, manage to put off a win, it would be nothing short of an upset.
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