Preview: The big Sunday – India vs England

26 Feb 2011 by Raj in ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag

It’s the big Sunday at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 as hosts India take on England at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. There has been a lot of hype as well as controversy surrounding the game. How can one forget the last game India played here in the 1996 World Cup quarter final against Pakistan? Undoubtedly, the fans would be hoping for an encore on Sunday. However, the ticket fiasco, which led to the lathi charge on fans a couple of days back, was the last thing that the already under fire tournament needed. And if things need to be set straight then the two teams will have to put up a really solid showing, better than all the previous games in the tournament so far. In short, the game needs to live up to the hype.

Sehwag scare

For India to do well in the clash, they will need Virender Sehwag to be in fine form. Unfortunately, the Indian opener was hit in the ribcage during practice. And though, he is expected to be take the field for Sunday’s clash against England, India will only hope that he is cent per cent fit for the match. The kind of form he has been in, India will be mightily handicapped if he is unable to play his natural game in the match against the Englishmen.

Key Clashes

Indian top three vs England pacers

In the last two T20 World Cups, the Indian batsmen were massively bruised by the short-pitched stuff delivered by the opposition pacers. And England were one of the teams that exploited this predictable weakness to the hilt. Of course, those tournaments were held on foreign soil, where the bounce is much more pronounced. Even so, the English medium pacers would make a conscious effort to bounce out the Indian batsmen yet again. This is where the performances of Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir would be extremely essential. If they can unsettle the English pacers early on, it would give them a great advantage over their opponents. Both the Indian openers would fancy their chances considering that both Stuart Broad and James Anderson struggled against the so-called minnows Netherlands. It was an extremely inexplicable performance by the hapless pace duo, who not so long ago, were at the top of their game in the Ashes, more so from Broad, who picked up five-fors in both the warm-up games. Both Broad and Anderson will need to pick up their game by quite a few notches if they need to upset the Indian applecart at home.

Yuvraj Singh vs Graeme Swann

This clash might well decide which way the game heads. Swann is undoubtedly the best off spinner in the world today. And, even as India are rated amongst the best against the slow bowlers, the current reality is not all that healthy. Yuvraj Singh, in particular, has often struggled against spinners, and he would have it really tough against Swann. To add to his woes, he hasn’t been in the best of form either and his fitness too has been a great concern. India will need Yuvraj to rise above all his problems and perform like the man we have come to know of him over the years. When on song, the lanky left-hander can upset any opposition calculations. Even while he has been performing below par with the bat, Yuvraj has been extremely handy with the ball which means that if he can lift his game with the bat, he will be nothing short of an all-rounder for India. But with Swann in such great form, it will be a real challenge for Yuvraj.

The slog overs

England were miserable in the final overs against Netherlands and were penalised in an abysmal manner. They still managed to get home thanks to some inexperience among the Dutch bowlers in crunch situations. However, if they get it wrong against India, irreparable damage could be done. This is because in Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni, India have two of the most dangerous hitters in world cricket. And, on their day, they could tear apart any opposition in the world. Thus, England will have to be extremely smart in the way they handle the slog-over situation.

Pietersen vs Zaheer

The flamboyant Kevin Pietersen, shouldering the new responsibility of opening the innings, will be expected to get the team off to a flyer. However, in Zaheer Khan India have a vastly experienced bowler, who can pin him down. Depending on who wins the battle, the momentum will switch to the respective side. And in a crucial game such as this, both sides would want it to swing their way. It is extremely tough to predict a winner in this contest since both are class acts and marvel under challenging situations. Better to just wait and watch on this.

Harbhajan vs England middle-order

In recent years, Harbhajan Singh hasn’t been the match-winning Turbanator that took flight in 2001. Even so, he has adapted to his new role, that of strangulating the opposition, very smartly. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that, over the years, the Englishmen haven’t been the best players of spin bowling. And while they have improved by leaps and bounds, playing against the likes of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann on the domestic circuit, Harbhajan would still fancy his chances of succeeding against England. The fact that Eoin Morgan, one if their better players, isn’t here would be a definite handicap for England. But the rest will need to rise up to the occasion and make up for it. In Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior, they have two very smart cricketers and, if they get settled, they can pose problems to the Indian spinners.

The final word

The analysis and recent history (India beat England in 1999 and 2003) point towards an Indian victory. However, games are not decided on numbers. India will need to back them with a solid performance while England must focus on getting their basics right and take things from there onwards.

 

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