India will want Virender Sehwag to fire
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Barely four days back, the Indian team was in another continent, playing
another series, in another format of the game. Their hectic schedule and
lack of preparation, coupled with their lack of experience in the Twenty20
format, means not many are giving them much chance of making it into the
last four. That could work to their advantage, though, and a win in the
opener against Scotland on Thursday will ensure they make it to the Super
Eights. It was a hurdle they couldn't surmount in the Caribbean earlier
this year, but it's highly unlikely that Scotland can do a
Bangladesh on India.
Bat play: Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn't reveal much about team
composition in the pre-match talk, which means guessing the XI is a bit of
a hazard. The batting line-up will surely consist of Virender Sehwag,
who'll have plenty to prove after his recent absence, Robin Uthappa,
Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Dinesh Karthik might get a look-in
ahead of Gautam Gambhir, while Irfan Pathan and Joginder Sharma could
bolster the lower order.
Scotland's top order, bar Fraser Watts, the opener, misfired badly, but
they have another opportunity to make amends.
Wrecking ball: India do have plenty of bowling options, but in the
absence of Zaheer Khan, the challenge is for one of them to rise and
take up the mantle of being the leader of the pack. Ajit Agarkar has been
too inconsistent to inspire any confidence, while Sreesanth has been
blow-hot, blow-cold throughout his short career. That leaves the
much-improved RP Singh as the potential leader, while Irfan Pathan will
want to make a strong statement on his return as well. It remains to be
seen how much of an influence the spinners will have.
Scotland's new-ball bowlers were very impressive against Pakistan, and
aided by their top-class fielders in conditions that could help the
bowlers, they could ask a few searching questions of the Indian batsmen.
Keep your eyes on: Virender Sehwag. The exclusion from the team
would have hit him hard, and he'll want to take every opportunity to prove
he is still one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket.
Shop talk: To bat first or to chase is the perennial question for
the captain winning the toss, but Dhoni had little doubt about what he
would do if the coin fell his way. "A lot depends on the conditions but we
would probably love to bat first. It's always better to bat first, and
since batting is also our strength, we would like to give the opponents a
big total. Also there is a lot more pressure when chasing big totals."
His other mantra is to keep it conventional and simple. "If you've seen
last evening's game between South Africa and the West Indies, they played
proper cricketing shots. I think it's important to play it as a normal
cricket match. The stress would be on playing conventional cricket and not
doing anything extraordinary."
Pitching it right: The weather should be fine, but strong winds
could help the bowlers move it around a bit, though control could be an
issue here. The track has shown a tendency to hold up occasionally, making
strokeplay a trifle difficult.
India (from): Virender Sehwag, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir,
Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt &
wk), Joginder Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Piyush
Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, RP Singh, Sreesanth.
Scotland (from): Ryan Watson (capt), Fraser Watts, Dougie Brown,
John Blain, Gavin Hamilton, Navdeep Poonia, Gregor Maiden, Neil McCallum,
Qasim Sheikh, Colin Smith (wk), Craig Wright, Dewald Nel, Gordon Drummond,
Ross Lyons, Majid Haq.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo