Under-pressure India face stern test
Match factsThursday, July 3, 2008
Start time 16.00 (local), 10.00 (GMT)
Big PictureYounis Khan's whirlwind 123 changes the nature of Thursday's clash. Pakistan managed to chase a target of 309, and instead of a dress rehearsal for the final, the contest against Sri Lanka becomes India's chance to seal outright a place in the final without waiting for the outcome of the last Super Four match between Pakistan and Bangladesh - a win then will be enough for Pakistan to go through.
The batting has clicked for both India and Sri Lanka so far in the tournament but Pakistan's performance against the two teams highlighted how undercooked India's bowlers are. They have failed to come to grips with the flat decks in Karachi and it's their batsmen who bailed them out in the wins against Bangladesh and Pakistan. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had complained about the gruelling schedule for his team after playing three games in four days, and they will have to bounce back less than 24 hours after the loss to Pakistan.
Sri Lanka have sealed their spot in the final, and have the luxury to rest key players, something Pakistan won't want them to do. However, they will look back to the loss to Australia in an inconsequential game last year, when they rested key bowlers for tactical reasons after having sealed their spot in the semi-finals of the World Cup - the same bowlers proved ineffective in the one-sided final.
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India might also change their bowling combination. Remove his four-wicket haul against Hong Kong, and Piyush Chawla has been listless in the tournament. He could make way for left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who impressed in the game against Bangladesh. RP Singh could also get a look in, while Yusuf Pathan's role will be under scrutiny after his failure with both bat and ball against Pakistan.
India (probable): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 RP Singh.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have already qualified for the final and are likely to rest Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan as they did against UAE.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 2 Mahela Udawatte, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Chamara Kapugedera, 5 Chamara Silva, 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Kaushalya Weeraratne, 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Dilhara Fernando.
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Quotes"It is good we have a chance to play them [India] before the final. It gives the opportunity to carry on our good form in the tournament and extract more from the players ... Thursday's game would be crucial, for it will set the mood for the final."
Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, feels India were be their opponents on July 6 as well.
"They tried everything, whatever they had in the armoury they tried."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni tries to defend his less-than-impressive bowlers
George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo