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Will India get high on MSD?

cricket Updated: Sep 19, 2007 01:33 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Ten days ago, India had an opportunity to break the tag of ‘chokers’ when they faced England in the deciding game of the ODI series at Lord's. They failed.

When they take on the same opponents in a Super Eight match of the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship on Wednesday, they can't afford to choke again.

After losing to New Zealand on Sunday, India find themselves in a tricky situation. Even if they lose to England and New Zealand beat South Africa on Wednesday, India will still have an outside chance of qualifying for the semi-finals provided they beat South Africa on Thursday with a big margin and hope they surge ahead on the basis of the net run rate.

Instead of getting bogged down with various permutation and combinations, the best way ahead for India would be to beat England and keep their chances alive. It wouldn't be easy. As skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said after losing to New Zealand, the batsmen and bowlers have delivered once in each of India's two matches in the tournament so far.

Now, both departments will have to perform together, supported by good fielding and catching. But, what would matter most is planning.

Against New Zealand, India were out-thought by Daniel Vettori's quick and exceptional bowling changes. The team think tank, led by Dhoni, have to devise innovative means to outwit Paul Collingwood's men, who are a demoralised lot after losing both their Super Eight matches.

One of the ploys the Indians could use is to replace Ajit Agarkar with Piyush Chawla. While Agarkar has failed to deliver while bowling at the death by conceding too many runs, Chawla proved to be too good for all England batsmen in the NatWest series, particularly Kevin Pietersen.

With Harbhajan Singh bowling with a plan to contain the batsmen, India have lacked a wicket-taking bowler and this is where Chawla could come into the picture. If he prevents England from building partnerships in the middle overs, which has been the key to success for all the teams so far, his job would have been done.

Indian batsmen, on the other hand, have not been able to see through the middle overs off without losing too many wickets, and here. vice-captain Yuvraj Singh, the most experienced batsman in this line-up, has to stand up.

Yuvraj has tried to play big shots from the word go and as a result has lost his wicket early in both the matches. If he aims to be there at the end of the innings, India's job would be easier. Having lost both their Super Eight matches so far, England have not much to play for, while the young Indian team have everything to play for.

Not just to keep their semifinal hopes alive, but, more importantly, to come up with a sterling performance for the newly appointed one-day skipper Dhoni.

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