India look for a perfect day in Jo'burg and Centurion
Match factsWednesday, September 30, 2009
Start time 1430 (1230 GMT)
Big pictureIndia need the reverse of Murphy's Law. If they are to make it to the semi-final, everything that can go right needs to go right, and then some. They need Australia to lose to Pakistan, then they need to beat West Indies, and by such a margin that their net run-rate goes over Australia's. If any of these doesn't happen, they are out.
If Pakistan's match against Australia is even as much as washed out, India can kiss their campaign goodbye. The saving grace for them is that by half time during their match they'll know what exactly they need to do - if Australia lose, that is.
A difference of 2.08 in India and Australia's net run-rates looks huge on paper, but since it is based on the results of one match each it is not impossible to wipe out. It will be mighty difficult, though. Pakistan and Australia will make for a tight contest either way, so even if Australia lose India will need a huge win over West Indies. A perfect day is difficult to define, but India fans will know what it is if their team makes it to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.
West Indies have been no pushovers in this tournament, giving Pakistan and Australia a scare. They would love nothing better than to spoil a party on their way out. It won't be a surprise if they even wish for Australia to lose to Pakistan, so that they have a chance to actively contribute in sending a team out. September 30 will be one complex day.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
India - LWLWW
Mathematics and permutations aside, India will need a big improvement in their form to entertain any hopes of progressing in this tournament. In the first match they played four bowlers and gave away over 300. In the second they played five and were threatening to leak 300-plus when rain intervened - fuelling the belief in some quarters that the rain actually saved India by giving them a point and keeping them alive in the tournament, as opposed to jeopardising their chances.
West Indies - LLLLL
Those who were of the view that their invitation should have been revoked will definitely revisit their stance after their creditable fights, albeit both losses, against Pakistan and Australia. If they can combine both their performances, good bowling in the first match and good batting in the second, West Indies could unsettle India.
India have a 6' 5" problem going into what could be their last match of the tournament. Ishant Sharma's 15.3 overs for 92 runs tell just a part of the story: he has looked low on confidence and just seems to be putting the ball in, as opposed to putting real effort in it. The pace has been low too. But India also know that he can be a handful if they are playing on a green top at the Wanderers. It's a difficult decision to make, and they have duly delayed it to see the pitch and trends in the Pakistan-Australia match.
India: (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Virat Kohli, 7 Yusuf Pathan/Amit Mishra, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Dale Richards, who dislocated his shoulder during the Australia match, is definitely out. Either Keiran Powell or Royston Crandon could get a game in his place.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Devon Smith, 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Keiran Powell/Royston Crandon, 4 Travis Dowlin, 5 Floyd Reifer (capt), 6 David Bernard, 7 Darren Sammy, 8 Chadwick Walton (wk), 9 Nikita Miller, 10 Tino Best, 11 Gavin Tonge.
Pitch and conditions
India will be playing at the Wanderers for the first time in this competition, and there will definitely be extra bounce on offer. West Indies have the advantage of having played both their matches there.
Watch out for...
Pakistan v Australia Keep an eye on Centurion because what happens there will influence what happens in the second innings of this match.
Kemar Roach is one of the positives to have come out of the players-board saga in the Caribbean. Against Australia at the same venue, the Wanderers, he bowled with pace and hostility, something India can do without in their current state of mind.
Stats and trivia
- West Indies have played India twice in the Champions Trophy, and won on both occasions: the semi-final in Dhaka in 1998, and a league match in Ahmedabad in 2006. In World Cups the head-to-head is three wins each.
- In 59 ODI innings Suresh Raina has scored two centuries, against Bangladesh and Hong Kong. It has to do in part with fluctuating batting order, because he has maintained a decent average of 35-plus.
- The Wanderers has been a tough ground to chase on during this competition: Pakistan and England sweated chasing 134 and 213 respectively, West Indies and Sri Lanka failed chasing bigger totals.
"From the first game to this one we have gotten better, as a team and as individuals. Looking at the two games we've played, against Pakistan if we had 40 more runs, things could have been different. And against Australia we were in the game into the 40th over. It's been a great effort."
Floyd Reifer seeks a natural progression.
"We are cheering for Pakistan as they play a day game. We will know where we stand when we go out. Hopefully Pakistan will win."
MS Dhoni will be wearing green until the toss.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo