ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India v Ireland, Group B, World Cup 2011, Bangalore

Will Bangalore produce another run-fest?

Ireland's upset of England has turned their match against India into a much-awaited game, and one that could have telling consequences on the Cluster of Calamity that is Group B

Sharda Ugra in Bangalore

March 4, 2011

Comments: 64 | Text size: A | A

India players celebrate winning a warm-up football match during practice, Bangalore, March 4, 2011
India's fielders strike the Usain Bolt "To Di World" pose at the Chinnaswamy Stadium © AFP
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Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: India | Ireland

The summer is racing towards Bangalore but temperatures inside the Chinnaswamy Stadium are dropping from the highs of the India v England contest last week. One bunch of stands has been cleared of chairs, the concrete bleachers are back and the capacity of the ground has gone up from 38,000 to 39, 221, with half available for public sale. There are no laathi charges outside the stadium, no crowds thronging the gates and tickets for the match are all sold out.

The build-up to India v Ireland would have been quieter had it not been for Wednesday's upset and the general churning in Group B that has sent this Cluster of Calamity into a state of flux at the start of the third week of the World Cup.

Suddenly, India v Ireland on Sunday is a match where the Indians must hit the ground at full stride and the Irish cannot afford to slip for fear of being condemned for having celebrated far too much on the days following their victory over England.

Ireland put out allrounder John Mooney and a short burst of Wednesday's hero Kevin O'Brien for the waiting cameramen and reporters on Friday; the Indians stayed true to the BCCI's intentions to have their players available in only diet-sized bites, once the day before a match and then an hour after each match is over. At one stage, there was a strong rumour that given the high demand for interviews of Yusuf Pathan's newly-acquired talking parrots, the two birds would be forced to turn up for the media conference. At the first sign of television cameras, it is reliably learnt, that the parrots just fled, or rather, flew.

An Indian net session can often represent a film clip from cuckoo land, but that is being disrespectful to a bunch of the country's most elite high-performance athletes, who showed off multi-disciplinary skills on Friday. The team arrived at the ground about 90 minutes behind the schedule announced earlier and set themselves up for a long practice session. In a development that will gladden the hearts of their devoted fans and cantankerous punditry, a fielding session under lights was planned. India's practice began with a 20-minute lockdown in their changing room, and when they did emerge, an hour of football was followed by a group of the players gathering to perform the Usain Bolt pose for the cameras. The Jamaican sprinter calls it his, "To Di World" pose. Given that India's fielders are not really entitled to send out such messages to anyone, the move may be a psychological ploy to rev up the team's happiness index and also confuse the Irish: that among their slow-moving rivals on Sunday, champion sprinters lurk dangerously.

Fielding is the area where the Indians will have to up their game against a team which can be matched with both bat and ball. No matter how many they make, it is what the Indians will leak in the field that will always hold them back. Dhoni had thrown his hands up after the tie against England when he said, "I don't think we can improve the fielding very much because we have got quite a few slow fielders in the side ... you need to realise your strengths and definitely fielding is not a big part of it."

It is why India must decide whether to pack in a side that can score runs or bring in the extra wicket-taker. The somewhat brittle, though effective, Ashish Nehra is rumoured to be fit again but for him to be in the XI, India must leave out either Piyush Chawla or pack the side with five specialist bowlers and give Yusuf Pathan a chance to spend time with the parrots. If India do play five bowlers, it will be an act of much boldness and a slightly heavier responsibility on its big-ticket batsmen. They have had a week's break after each of their two matches so far, but now go into three matches in seven games, and no matter what the big tickets do, it is India's foot soldiers who will be sweating.

Runs are, once again, expected to burst forth from the Chinnaswamy Stadium wicket, where the last three international matches have generated an average of 328 runs per innings. In these three games, two teams have successfully chased scores of above 300 with India and England entangled in a tie. All that can be done to generate an extra twirl of turn on the wicket, which is what the Indians must now be slightly desperate for, is to keep the wicket dry by not watering it. Yet how much the wicket can be changed is all a question of degree. Who gets to decide what that degree is, will be known the moment the first innings of Sunday's match is complete.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 64 
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Posted by Bobby on (March 6, 2011, 6:55 GMT)

There are warning signs all over Indian performance so far. Indian fielding is one of worse in the world and their bowling is not any better. India can not imporve their fielding as they have aging players who has been selected because of reputation rather than form. Suresh Raina and Yuvraj are sitting ducks against quality bowling. Teams like SL, Pak and SA will take overrated Harbhajan, inexprienced Aswin and tried and failed Chawla to cleaners.India seems to be relying on their top order to score runs. Indian middle order is either out of form or not good enough.India needs to raise their game although one feels that tie against England may haunt India as they may end up playing Pak or Australia in QF meaning an early exit for India.Indian selectors have been riding on individual form of players like Sehwag, Zaheer and kohli. Players like Ishant, Rohit, Ohja and even VS Laxman should have been selected.I hope it is not repeat of Nehru Cup 1989 and India watches others having party

Posted by noah on (March 6, 2011, 6:42 GMT)

@ dsig3 : well, if i do u a favour n try my best to add some logic into ur suggestion, to justify its validity, we wud even have to reduce the number of wickets earned by fast bowlers who mostly bowl outside the subcontinent cuz their pitches are heaven for them.......how abt reducing their wicket tally n increasing their economy rates...?? is it justice? pitches r pitches....some assist battng, some are spinner frndly, some are fast n lively.......thats cricket..live wid it n enjoy it...if its really easy to bat on spinner frndly tracks, why are teams like aus, nz , etc struggling against spin, which tendulkar n co. can handle wid an eye closed....theres no rule that fast tracks r more dangerous than turners...or that pitches shud help bowling ,n not batting....

Posted by Bhushan on (March 6, 2011, 6:04 GMT)

Any predictions from Warne ?? ;)

Posted by Aussies on (March 6, 2011, 2:15 GMT)

Wats up with parrots... parrots... parrots... parrots??? :P

Posted by django on (March 5, 2011, 23:53 GMT)

After this world cup I think all teams which play a majority of their cricket in the world cup should have their batting averages reduced by 10. Seriously, its very apparent now why some sub continent teams have very high averages.

Posted by Bimal on (March 5, 2011, 22:40 GMT)

@onion834 : a guy next 2 Munaf (Patel) is indian team physio mr.Patel

Posted by Thank You on (March 5, 2011, 20:35 GMT)

What's wrong with a run fest - I'd rather see a run fest than a boring match played on a grazing pitch that makes my neighbor's 10 year old look like Joel Garner. That is what is served up in places like South Africa and australia - but there is no way we want to see that in India. Hoping for lots of runs and lots and lots of spin. I hope all the wickets are square turners.

Posted by Silly on (March 5, 2011, 20:09 GMT)

"In a development that will gladden the hearts of their devoted fans and cantankerous punditry, " Sharda - Surely, you must be referring to your own cantankerous self here. Nobody seems to have more axes to grind with Indian Cricket than you. I'm no defender of boorish behavior, but I have news for you. This isn't about you. I don't care about how difficult your job is in dealing with BCCI or its players and it matters least to me how often the players are available to be questioned by the media. Judging by the type of clichéd, cookie-cutter & clueless questions they are asked day in and day out, I'd rather the players avoid the media altogether and focus on Cricket. If you want to stick with your surly, snobbish and sarcastic depiction of all things Indian Cricket, warranted or unwarranted, in every single report and article, thats up to you, but leave Pathan's parrots out of it. That was unfunny and irrelevant. Must be tough to get around with that huge chip on your shoulders.

Posted by Muthuvel on (March 5, 2011, 19:30 GMT)

oh wow was the thing about parrots a joke ok..an other article about indian players and interviews/journalists...how boring.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 5, 2011, 18:56 GMT)

good to see such a jubilant team before clash with Irish....giving the green men the respect they deserve:)

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