Bruised India take on buoyant West Indies

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Nagpur:Down and out India will be aiming to rise from their ODI slump as they take on the spirited Windies in the first of the four-match ODI tournament at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground here on Sunday.

The pressure would be on the home side to deliver as they set out to correct the recent spate of defeats to the Carribean side, having lost six of the last eight ODIs against them.

The home side will be without Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly will open the innings with Gautam Gambhir. However the other contender for opening slot Robin Uthappa will sit out.

However, the absence of Yuvraj Singh in the middle order and the lean phase of skipper Rahul Dravid pushed Tendulkar to middle order. He will bat at number four to utilize the crucial middle overs, which have been India's bane in the last few matches and has led to their downfall more often then not.

"We'll have Sourav and Gautam opening tomorrow and it gives us a chance to try Sachin in the middle overs which are going to be very important for us in the World Cup especially with the doubt hanging over Yuvraj Singh at this point on time. It is an option that we need to explore and we feel that is an important part of game for us," Dravid said at a press conference.

The wicket, which looks a belter and hard work for the pace bowlers, made the team management's job that much easier in including both the spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Powar while Zaheer and S Sreesanth share the new ball. However, the non-inclusion of Sehwag give Ajit Agarkar a chance in the playing 11.

This would also put extra pressure on the already beleaguered batting line up but on a strip heavily loaded in the favour of the batsmen, they should be able to negotiate with five batsmen and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the keeper batsmen plus Ramesh Powar and Ajit Agarkar also can bat well lower down, but under pressure it remains to be seen how they fare.

Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman Danish Karthik named as 12th man while Joginder Sharma, RP Singh and Robin Uthappa will sit out.

Windies holds advantage, says Lara: Meanwhile, West Indies captain Brian Lara would be looking to continue his team's dominance over the Indians and would be determined to make what could be his last tour of India a memorable one.

Lara speaking to the media said what is important for us is that we have the psychological advantage. And we just want to continue with it. We want to ensure that we stay dominant over India.''

West Indies though would miss batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan and pace bowler Corry Collymore, both out injured.

However, Chris Gayle and Shivnaraine Chanderpaul at the top of the order can cause a lot of headache for India and with Lara, Dwayne Smith, Runako Morton, Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels to follow they have a solid batting line up. Their bowlers are also very good with the spin of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, which the Indians have failed to negotiate properly in the middle overs in the past.

Security beefed up:The Nagpur police meanwhile has made tight secuirty arrangements for the match and the spectators have been told not to bring transistors, water bottles, handbags, thermos, flasks and balloons to the stadium, Deputy Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar has informed.

This one day international would also be the last international match to be played on this ground as a new stadium is coming up with all the modern facilities on the outskirts of the city and the matches would be shifted there in future.


India: Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid (capt), Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth. Dinesh Karthick (12th man). Coach: Greg Chappell

West Indies: Brian Lara (capt), Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Shinaraine Chanderpaul (vice-capt), R Emrit, Chris Gayle, Runako Morton, Darren Powell, Dinesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, L Simmons, Dwayne Smith and Jerome Taylor. Coach: Bennett King.

ThatsCricket(with inputs from UNI)

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