India’s bowler Harbhajan Singh congratulated by captain M S Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh after dismissal of Kieron Pollard during the World Cup match between India and West Indies at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai.
With the culmination of the group stages, we now know who are the teams that have entered the quarterfinals. Though there were a few very close and entertaining matches that enlivened the stage, there’ve been no surprises. Right from all the matches played by England to Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, it has been quite eventful.
Let’s talk about New Zealand first who lost to Sri Lanka in their last game. They missed a great opportunity to top Group A and take that psychological advantage into the next round. The way they were beaten in all departments on Friday doesn’t auger well, especially before some tough games.
They will play South Africa, who they could have avoided playing so early had they topped the group. The team management will have a big task regrouping the team.
Sri Lankans in good nick
On the other hand, Sri Lanka seem to have got into the groove. Their best batsmen, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, look in good nick. With the variety and uniqueness in their bowling attack in sub-continental conditions, they look dangerous. Each of their strike bowlers has a unique ability. Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Angelo Mathews are all unique bowlers.
Indian bowling needs to perk up
India have the strongest batting line-up. But then their batsmen will always be under pressure to score more runs for their bowlers to bowl at. Whatever I have seen from their games, their bowling needs to improve. It’s an area of concern. A low-scoring game will test their bowlers.
I hear there are some selection issues between captain MS Dhoni and the selectors over R Ashwin.
Dhoni seems to prefer Piyush Chawla ahead of Ashwin. It’s a case of who calls the shots. But it’s always better if there is a consensus between the team management and the selectors. One cannot be too dictatorial or soft.
All-rounder Yuvi has matured
Yuvraj Singh is becoming an important player — he has developed into an useful all-rounder, which is crucial if India are to win their first World Cup in 28 years. His batting has improved tremendously, but it is his shot selection and decision-making that impress me most.
He has matured as a batsman.
India still have concerns closing the innings — for the third time, they have not piled on the runs in the last 5-6 overs. They need to get more out of the batting of Pathan and Harbhajan. If there are wickets in hand, the last five overs should produce at least 50 runs.
India will play Australia in the quarterfinals. What a clash that will be!