India v New Zealand, tri-series, 6th ODI, Dambulla August 24, 2010

Batting worries for teams in knockout clash

Match Facts

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Start time 14.30 (0900 GMT)

Big Picture

The word most conspicuously absent in all press conferences this tournament is 'momentum'. The schizophrenic performances of all three teams in Dambulla - crushing opponents one day, and being crushed themselves the next - has meant no team could claim whatever advantage momentum allegedly provides. The topsy-turvy league phase reaches its conclusion on Wednesday when India and New Zealand face off in an elimination match.

New Zealand's inexperienced batting line-up remains their biggest concern. The relaxed format of the tournament and the unseasonal rain which washed out their match against Sri Lanka means their batsmen have, amazingly, not had a bat in the middle for a dozen days, which the captain Ross Taylor said is "going to give a little more anxiety than the actual game itself."

MS Dhoni's captaincy record of winning every tournament in Sri Lanka is also under threat after India's batting failures in two matches. One heartening factor for Dhoni is the glimpses of form Yuvraj Singh showed during Sunday's humiliating defeat. India have alternated between wins and losses in the previous six matches, a trend which Dhoni will hope extends for one more game.

Form guide

(most recent first)
India: LWLWL
New Zealand: LWWLL

Watch out for...

Scott Styris is enjoying a run-filled year and his 168 one-day caps will be essential to a batting unit light in international exposure. He has found the conditions in Dambulla helpful to his steady bowling, finishing with 2 for 36 in ten overs in the previous match.

MS Dhoni is the top-ranked one-day batsman in the world, but has been part of two shambolic Indian collapses. With some of the youngsters in the middle order finding it hard to adjust to the seaming pitches in the tournament, the team is looking to their captain to deliver.

Team news

New Zealand welcome Martin Guptill back at the top of the order after missing a game due to injury, but Jacob Oram is headed back to New Zealand as a result of an injured knee that has not responded to treatment and is affecting his ability to bowl. A possible replacement could be left-arm seamer Andy McKay. Their other fitness concern is Kane Williamson, who has a bicep injury and couldn't bowl or throw on Monday.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Ross Taylor (capt), 4 Kane Williamson/ Peter Ingram, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Grant Elliott, 7 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Daryl Tuffey, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Andy McKay

India had no injury worries on the eve of the match. Despite the pummeling against Sri Lanka, it's unlikely there will be too many changes to the side. Again, the decision will be on whether to bring in Virat Kohli at the expense of either Dinesh Karthik or Rohit Sharma.

India (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Dinesh Karthik, 3 Rohit Sharma/Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Pragyan Ojha, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashish Nehra

Pitch and conditions

A fresh pitch will be used for the match but MS Dhoni, who inspected the pitch after the Indian net session, expected it to behave similar to the ones used earlier in the tournament. "Initially, there will be a bit of help for the seamers. During the daytime, they can swing the ball with the breeze. And under the lights, it always swings here."

Of as much interest is the weather. It was cloudy on Tuesday and drizzled in the morning, and light rain is predicted for Wednesday. Taylor has shown a preference to chase if there is a chance of the D/L method needing to be applied, but could stick with the bat-first policy captains have traditionally favoured in Dambulla day-nighters if the skies are clear.

Quotes

"It's just a game of cricket and every game you play you play to win, we don't want to put any more pressure on ourselves and that's the attitude we'll be going with."
Ross Taylor isn't getting too worked up about the hype of a must-win match

"We just have to be careful not to fish at the ball. Rather we will have to just leave or play a shot."
Some words of advice from MS Dhoni about tackling the moving ball

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

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