Opportunity for India to experiment
Match factsWednesday June 25, 2008
Start time 16.00 local time (10.00 GMT)
Big PictureTournament favourites India couldn't have asked for an easier start to their Asia Cup campaign. Their opposition, Hong Kong, were routed by 155 runs by Pakistan and have less than a day to recover before facing the Indians, hurt after conceding the Kitply Cup to Pakistan less than a fortnight ago. The already overworked Indian side would use this opportunity to test their bench strength and increase the competition for places before bigger challenges in the tournament.
Gary Kirsten, India's coach, sounded out the need to rotate players after a series of injury worries, especially among the fast bowleers. With Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan missing the tournament, and with India barely getting an off-season to recuperate, the seam attack looks less potent now. After Hong Kong's spirited display with the ball in a crucial passage of play against Pakistan, India wouldn't take things lightly especially against the spinners. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain, spoke of maintaining a scoring-rate of five an over and above in the middle overs, but even that, as Pakistan learnt today, requires a lot of application, irrespective of the opposition. Dhoni also indicated he would promote himself to shepherd the middle order.
Hong Kong, despite their loss, would take pride from the fact that they made a top international side slog it out. However, they lacked the energy to press on and go the distance so all thoughts of pulling off an upset will remain distant.
Form guideIndia LWWWW
Hong Kong LLLLL
Watch out for ...Yusuf Pathan: The biggest Indian success in the IPL has a chance to blaze away, that too against a weak opposition, after a relatively quiet start to his international career in Bangladesh. Yusuf was seen practicing the reverse-sweep and switch-hit - Kevin Pietersen's stroke of genius - at the nets on the eve of the match. Clearly, Gary Kirsten has identified him to perform the role of a finisher.
Nadeem Ahmed: The 20-year old left-arm spinner gave Pakistan plenty of anxious moments on Tuesday, running through a powerful middle order to leave the hosts at 161 for 7. Nadeem finished with figures of 4 for 51, and his efforts really made Pakistan sweat it out for a while before they eventually recovered.
Team newsIrfan Pathan has been ruled out of tomorrow's game with a side strain and Kirsten hinted that Ishant Sharma might be given a rest at some stage in the tournament. That could hand an ODI cap to Manpreet Gony, another success story from the IPL.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt and wk), 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Ishant Sharma/Manpreet Gony, 11 RP Singh.
Hong Kong have hardly any time to recover from the match against Pakistan. Zain Abbas, the middle-order batsman, had to retire hurt with cramps so his fitness will be monitored.
Hong Kong (probable): 1 Tabarak Dar (capt), 2 Skhawat Ali, 3 Irfan Ahmed, 4 Hussain Butt, 5 Courtney Kruger, 6 Zain Abbas, 7 James Atkinson (wk), 8 Munir Dar, 9 Najeeb Amar, 10 Nadeem Ahmed, 11 Afzaal Haider.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"I think the bowlers were tired. We won a few sessions but could not finish it off. We lacked fitness."
Tabarak Dar, the Hong Kong captain, on his team's failure to capitalise against Pakistan.
"We have got to be careful with the bowlers, some of these guys have played a lot of cricket and we need to make sure that they are physically fresh, fit and ready."
Gary Kirsten on the importance of rotating the bowlers.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a staff writer at Cricinfo