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Chance to check bowling resources

Given that it's the Netherlands up next, it was not unusual to see the Indians in a completely relaxed mood on Tuesday.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2011 00:16 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Given that it's the Netherlands up next, it was not unusual to see the Indians in a completely relaxed mood on Tuesday.

The day began with the morning nets session cancelled and after checking into the Ferozshah Kotla stadium late in the afternoon, a round of football and some light knocking was all that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's boys indulged in.

This was in stark contrast to what they had done earlier in this tournament. A day before all the three previous games, the Indians had long and intense training. Because it's just the unfancied Dutch they are now facing after a testing time against Ireland in Bangalore on Sunday, it probably prompted Dhoni & Co to preserve themselves.

Chance to check
That said there is still something to play for in this match. Apart from the points that a win will fetch, India also get a chance to check their resources in this game because there wouldn't be much room for experiment after this.

South Africa and the West Indies await them in the last two group games before the knockout slugfest.

"So far, most of our batsmen have got a chance to play but the same can't be said about our bowlers.

"It's important to win, and equally important to give all our bowlers a chance, ideally in the league matches itself. It's important to see what shape they are in," said Dhoni, on being asked whether he was thinking of taking a look at as many as possible before the crunch games.

Nehra has to be there
Suresh Raina, Ashish Nehra and R Ashwin are the ones yet to play a game, while Sreesanth has got just one. They have been left out for different reasons and in Nehra's case, it was a back injury. Considering that he is fit now and should ideally get a game before playing against the stronger teams, it is logical he would be in the 11 against the Netherlands.

With India set to retain their 2-2 pace-spin combination keeping in mind the slow nature of the pitch, Nehra will replace either Zaheer or Munaf. Zaheer came into the World Cup with a groin problem and needs rest at some point.

And if the team wants to give Sreesanth a chance to come back from his nightmarish outing against Bangladesh on February 19, there is no better team to do that than against the Dutch, who have done little to prove that their impressive display against England in the first match was not a fluke.

Ashwin likely
That leaves out Raina and Ashwin. While Dhoni said Raina will have to wait for at least one more game, he praised Ashwin. "Whenever he has played, he has done brilliantly." This strongly suggests that the off-spinner's wait for his World Cup debut is set to end.

Whether he will replace Harbhajan Singh or Piyush Chawla is the only question.