India versus New Zealand, a shootout for the final

India go into the final round match of the triangular series against New Zealand at Dambulla today.


Express August 25, 2010

India go into the final round match of the triangular series against New Zealand at Dambulla today boasting of nothing but unpredictability. After being shot out for 88, India bounced back to defeat Sri Lanka with a convincing six-wicket margin before slumping against the hosts to be dismissed for 103.

Meanwhile, New Zealand are aware of the inconsistency but also wary of the threat. Yuvraj Singh showed a glimpse of his return to form in the last match while the pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra has not fared badly either by taking 14 wickets in the series so far.

The match, a shootout for a place in the final, holds special significance for Indian captain MS Dhoni, whose perfect record of winning every tournament in Sri Lanka faces a massive threat. However, the biggest worry for Dhoni is the form of his batsmen. Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina and the captain himself have contributed just 118 runs in 12 innings combined at less than 10 runs per innings. In comparison, opener Virender Sehwag alone has managed 130 runs, including a missed century. However, with players struggling with the bat, pitches have come under criticism for inconsistent bounce, particularly from Dhoni.

On the other hand, New Zealand lack match-practice at Dambulla. After a good start in the first match where they made 288, the highest total of the tournament, their second match exposed their batting vulnerability before a washout ruled out any further practice for them.

The other trouble for them would be the injury to all-rounder Jacob Oram. However, they would welcome the return of Martin Guptill at the top of the order.

But their main concern should be India’s unpredictability and the presence of a match winners in the side which their captain Ross Taylor has already accounted for.

“I think it almost makes them dangerous. They are a good batting unit and have played a lot of cricket. I am sure with their experience they will come firmer and we just need to put pressure on them.

“I think every top order has struggled, not just India. I guess their batting is under pressure but I would say even we were under a bit of pressure. We struggled at the top and Sri Lanka had their troubles as well. The ball has done lot of things.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2010.

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