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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

India shines finally at the World Cup

It took the help of Bermuda for India to shine at the latest World Cup in West Indies. Hope the help was not only on the victory margin, but also increase of morale of the Indian team ahead of their Sri Lankan battle. Too much shouldnt be read into the form of the Indians based on this game, as the Bermudans (to give credit to them) were no more proficient than the Indian Ranji Champions. An Australian side might have achieved the 500 score against them. The Bermuda team was quite excited playing in this match and in fact, during the toss, it was funny listening to the captain saying - a few quick wickets of the Indians and you never know what might happen - he actually meant it!!!

This shows the confidence that Bangladesh has given to its fellow minnows. Credit to the fielders of the Bermuda team also - it was great catching especially that was noticed during the match. All in all, a team that can be encouraged.

For starters, it was good to see Sehwag back in form during this match. Though he started the usual way - flashing outside the off stump, he got back his touch and knack of finding gaps in the field. Once he passed 50, he grew in confidence and only he could get himself out - which finally happened. Does that mean he has regained his form? That is a million-dollar question that only the next match will show. The bowlers in this match didnt bowl the balls that trouble him a lot recently - the inswingers, bouncers. But, Vaas and Malinga will surely test him in the next match. Of course, he will play the next few matches, no doubt about that. Will Robin Uthappa also play? Frankly, playing him and Sehwag together is a bit of a lottery.

Sourav Ganguly again scratched around for another 50 - must be his fourth 50 in last 4 matches, if I am correct. But, he was not able to rotate the strike - this might be crucial against the other countries, nor was he able to hit the big shots easily. But, he is one player who seems to be going without any stop. Great work Sourav!!!

Yuvraj Singh was non-stop during the match against Bermuda. His patented slog-pulls were great - in fact, it was becoming very obvious every ball that was bowled to him. Sachin also scored at almost 200 runs per 100 balls, after a very very long time. It is very strange why he doesnt go over mid-wicket or long-on areas - he hit his big shots either behind square or over extra-cover. Any elbow problems still around? Dhoni promised much, but couldnt get a big score - maybe he is waiting for the Sri Lanka match.

The batting lineup for the next match should look like this: Sourav and Sehwag to open, Rahul Dravid can come in at 3, Sachin at 4, Yuvraj at 5, Dhoni at 6, Pathan at 7, Harbhajan at 8, Kumble at 9, Zaheer at 10, Munaf at 11.

When most teams are playing 2 spinners, wonder why the Indians are not. Ajit Agarkar has showed to be out of form and hence, he should be rested for the crucial match. Irfan Pathan can be played in this match since he showed some signs of form during the West Indies match. He can definitely provide some batting support, in Uthappa's position. India has to play both their spinners to gain advantage - even though there are quite a few left-handers in the Sri Lankan team and Kumble doesnt like bowling to them. Munaf Patel should be given the new ball and a license to kill - getting the early wickets of Jayasuriya and Sangakkara should be his main priority - and he can do it. Once these two are out, the rest should be easy for the other bowlers. On the bowling of Sri Lanka, the Indians should watch out for Murali and Vaas mainly (as they wouldnt provide fodder like the

Bermudans did) as well as Malinga and Bandara with their varied bowling.

All in all, it makes for a fascinating match in prospect this friday.
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