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Saturday, February 26, 2011

World Cup 2011 - India meets first tough opposition

After the thumping of Bangladesh in Mirpur, India face their first tough opposition in this edition of the World Cup. Castrol Cricket rates them very closely - 171-169 but there are many other factors that will impact the match otherwise. England has always performed badly on the subcontinent, more on the Indian soil. Their fast bowlers seem to miss their edge while the slower bowlers cannot make an impact on the tailenders, forget the front-line batsmen.

The match has been shifted to Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore from the Eden Gardens, Kolkata.After the controversy of the tickets, there is a doubt whether the match itself will be free from the threat of rains. It has been raining (though irregularly) in the Garden city for the last 2-3 days. The last ODI on this ground saw Yusuf Pathan take India home with a majestic century - this ODI has been the only one played in the last two years on this ground. The warm-up matches of this tournament were played earlier this month - India and South Africa defeated Australia in the two matches with no small help from the spinners.

It will be no surprise that India will strengthen their bowling for various reasons - the help provided to the spinners in the warm-up matches being one while the perceived weakness of the English batsmen against quality spinners will be the other reason. This can boomerang on the Indians since the English have the world's best spinner in international cricket today - Greame Swann. Of course, there are other bowlers in the English team who must be raring to avoid the mistakes they made against the Netherlands at Nagpur. Broad and Anderson gave away runs by the dozen then while Bresnan and Swann were comparatively miserly. The batsmen all made starts and that must be good omen for the Andys.

India, on the other hand, have less concerns after the first match against Bangladesh. Sreesanth will be the one who will step out of the playing eleven to make way for a spinner. The batting looks strong with Sehwag and Kohli ready to repeat their success again. Sachin must be wondering whether he gets enough chances for himself to score the three hundreds to reach a century of centuries.

There are various mini-battles in this match that is exciting to anticipate:
  • Yuvraj Singh and Stuart Broad. The six 6s during the T20 World Cup still remains in everyone's memory and these two will try to outsmart the other when they meet on the ground.
  • Yuvraj Singh and Kevin Pietersen. The pie-chucker controversy aside, Yuvraj will fancy his chances against KP who has been vulnerable to left-arm spin recently.
  • Sehwag and the opening bowlers. The English bowlers must be raring to go at the Indian opener with short-pitched balls while Viru must be waiting for his chance to stay long and score high.
  • Harbhajan and Trott. Trott has not faced the Indian spinners earlier and his preference to rotate the strike will mean that the spinners can tie him up at the crease. 
  • Dhoni and Strauss. Two of the best captains in the cricketing world, now that Ponting has gone down a notch. Each one has a cool presence on the field while always thinking how to outdo the opposition.        
The Indian team has the advantage over the English both in terms of rankings and the home support. If the weather does not interfere, the Indians will notch up their second win of the tournament.
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