Preview: India look for big win ahead of crucial clashes

With South Africa and West Indies to come, India need to win big over a shaky Netherlands.

By Jamie Alter

New Delhi: Mar 9, 2011

India sit atop Group B having not lost a match yet, but thanks to that pool s uncertainty and the point lost in the tied match they are still not technically assured of a spot in the quarter-finals. With South Africa and West Indies to come, India need to win big over a shaky Netherlands.

The hosts struggled in stages in an ultimately comfortable five-wicket win over Ireland on Sunday, but after three matches on batsmen-friendly surfaces, they move north to the capital and a pitch which has the potential to spring a surprise. Going by how the Kotla surface has played during the tournament, it seems anything is possible. West Indies racked up 330 before Kemar Roach seized six wickets; Imran Tahir, the leggie, snared four on ODI debut; even Canada s Balaji Rao found some assistance with his variety of legspin.

The debate over two spinners and whether one of them should be Piyush Chawla continues to rage on, with opinion divided between the fan on the street and the one at home, as well as former cricketers. If Manoj Prabhakar, who knows a thing or two about the Kotla wicket, has firmly called for R Ashwin to bowl alongside Harbhajan Singh tomorrow, then Murali Kartik, a veteran spinner on the first-class circuit, has termed dropping Chawla a “knee-jerk reaction”. India will be wary of experimenting against Netherlands, but this match affords them another opportunity to see how their method of playing just four specialist bowlers works for tougher tests ahead, against South Africa and West Indies.

Peter Borren, Netherlands captain, has singled out the batsmen s ability to handle India s spin as the sternest challenge. However, equally key to Netherlands handling of Zaheer Khan will be Alexei Kervezee, the prodigious talent who has yet to make a peep in the tournament, and Wesley Baressi who scored a fluent 44 against South Africa. Zaheer was excellent with the new ball against Ireland in Bangalore and Netherlands will do well to not simply plod their front feet forward and look to play out Zaheer. Similarly, Netherlands will need the likes of Tom Cooper, Bas Zuiderent and Tom de Grooth to put their hands up.

Netherlands haven t gotten anything out of Ryan ten Doeschate since his century against England, and desperately need him to score now. India may have reason to worry about ten Doeschate s prolonged silence.

Their bowling has revolved around the talented slow left-armer Pieter Seelar, and ten Doeschate who picked up three wickets in the defeat to South Africa. Mudassar Bukhari has been indifferent and rarely threatening with the new ball and his comforting pace could be right up Virender Sehwag s alley at his home ground. Berend Westdijk has leaked runs in the last couple matches and there s a possibility he be benched for Bradley Kruger.

This will be the biggest night of the World Cup for Netherlands, in terms of atmosphere at a cricket stadium. After two sapping defeats to West Indies and South Africa both by over 200 runs the Netherlands are finding that this tournament just keeps getting tougher.


Teams:

India (Probable): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla/R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel.

Netherlands (Probable): Alexei Kervezee, Wesley Baressi (wk), Tom Cooper, Bas Zuiderent, Tom de Grooth, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Peter Borren (c), Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar, Berend Westdijk/Bradley Kruger, Bernand Loots.

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (Australia) and Steve Davis (Australia).

Time: 14.30 local (09.00 GMT).

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)

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