ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

India v New Zealand, World Cup 2011 warm-up

Tendulkar to play final warm-up, Zaheer rested

Siddarth Ravindran in Chennai

February 15, 2011

Comments: 173 | Text size: A | A

Sachin Tendulkar takes a catch during a practice session, Bangalore, February 12, 2010
Sachin Tendulkar will open, while Gautam Gambhir is likely to bat at No. 3 © AFP
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Players/Officials: Zaheer Khan | Sachin Tendulkar
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: India

At the very last chance to test their combination before the World Cup, India will field their full-strength batting line-up in a 50-over game for the first time in 15 months. The batsmen had faltered against Australia on Sunday but will be bolstered by the return of Sachin Tendulkar against New Zealand.

Tendulkar had missed that warm-up game because of a niggle but will play on Wednesday, in what will be his third one-day match since his double-century against South Africa in Gwalior a year ago. He had a long batting session on Tuesday morning during India's practice, and also spent time working on his fielding, showing no signs of the hamstring injury that forced him to return home midway through the one-day series in South Africa a month ago.

Tendulkar will displace Gautam Gambhir from the top of the order to No. 3, the position at which Virat Kohli had much of his recent success. Kohli's form swept him to second spot in the ICC one-day rankings, but even that hasn't ensured him a place in the starting line-up. Wednesday's game will give Kohli a chance to show his prowess lower down the order, perhaps at No .6, a position where another contender, Suresh Raina, is considered a better bet.

The other player in India's squad to miss the first warm-up, Zaheer Khan, will sit out of the sold-out game against New Zealand as well. MS Dhoni was quick to emphasise that Zaheer, who has been injury prone, would be fit in time for the World Cup opener against Bangladesh on February 19. "He has a very, very mild groin strain, nothing to worry about," Dhoni said. "We can give him rest, so we are giving him rest, and will use him when the proper tournament starts."

Zaheer didn't bowl in the nets on Tuesday, though he batted for 45-minutes and also tested himself with a series of short sprints under the supervision of physiotherapist Nitin Patel. Zaheer is the only fast bowler guaranteed a starting place, and his absence gives the others - Ashish Nehra, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel - who had little work against Australia another opportunity to audition for the World Cup.

India had sneaked to victory two days ago despite the below-par score and the initial ineffectiveness of the seamers because their spinners demolished the Australian batting. Piyush Chawla, the legspinner who was the most debated selection in India's World Cup squad, was the star, ripping out the middle-order during a spell of 5-0-9-4. Under Dhoni, India have generally played three-seamers and one-specialist spinner, with a spinning allrounder and part-timers combining for the remaining ten overs. Another strong performance from Chawla will leave Dhoni pondering the inclusion of two specialist slow bowlers, especially on turning tracks, and only two quicks.

In the previous World Cup tune-up at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, South Africa had crushed Zimbabwe by eight wickets after bundling them out for 152. Their captain, Graeme Smith, had been critical of the pitch, terming it "slow and dead" and "under-prepared", and called for better surfaces in the actual tournament. Dhoni wasn't sure how the Chennai track would play but urged the Indian side to lift their performance. "We need to pick up a bit of intensity on the field," he said. "This being the last warm-up game, the intensity should be a bit up on the field [compared to the game against Australia]."

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 173 
Posted by qubie on (February 16, 2011, 13:00 GMT)

welcome for dhoni for his comeback... all the best team INDIA... I am so happy today... Thank's a lot... Team INDIA...

Posted by   on (February 16, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

@md9620.. this is the 3rd or 4th fastest century by an Indian Batsman...let him decide.. we want to WIN the WC

Posted by   on (February 16, 2011, 12:58 GMT)

It has been proved that the real God of Cricket is none other than M.S.Dhoni......he belongs to masterclass rather than master blaster

Posted by md9620 on (February 16, 2011, 12:55 GMT)

Alright Dhoni got 100... congrats to him.....but a practice match is meant to practice...easily he would have given opportunity to yuvraj once he reached his 50...just like south africans retired after reaching their respective half centuries to give opportunity to others...When you say playing in middle is different to practice in nets... why didn't you give opportunity to your most destructive batsman and support him to come to terms...poor strategy.... was Dhoni proving something to someone by showing nervousness in 90's and running like a hare just to complete 100 instead of going for big ones like the ones he hit in his 50's or 60's... dont he know the fact that he is the only Keeper selected in the team and need to keep entire NZ innings...cant he think of consequences if he gets injured in practice matches..... where is the big picture!!!

Posted by ROHANV19951995 on (February 16, 2011, 12:54 GMT)

ohh ......... hurricane dhoni....? if u send a kid to powerplay and ask to bat....even he will hit a century.... same happned here....raina and dhoni took powerplay overs and showed that they know batting....it wasnt a real match... it was for practice... and wats the use if all does not get chance to practice??? dhoni is very selfish....he want is csk partner raina to come front avoiding virat, yuvraj and ykpathan.... he simply is irritating..

Posted by   on (February 16, 2011, 12:54 GMT)

I think everyone who were questioning about dhoni's skill had got an answer.

Posted by AeyKay on (February 16, 2011, 12:53 GMT)

@md9620 Have you played any game, do you understand cricket ... Dhoni is the best captain among all playing teams, why he should strike in all matches ?

Posted by psychicsaint on (February 16, 2011, 12:52 GMT)

@md9620, seems dhoni heard you and proved you completely wrong... eat your words...

Posted by   on (February 16, 2011, 12:50 GMT)

@neoestel U r comment needs updation buddy.. its 108 from 64 balls :P

Posted by   on (February 16, 2011, 12:50 GMT)

Kiwis are crushed :) :) :) :)

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