Shaken India face must-win situation in Margao

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Margao:India have a do-or-die battle on their hands when they take on Sri Lanka in the third one-dayer at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatroda here on Sunday.

Sri Lanka, with the win at Rajkot in the second one-dayer, are leading 1-0 with the first match at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, being washed out. India now have to win this and the next match at Vizag if they want to win the series.

India, however, have some good news as Ajit Agarkar and Yuvraj Singh have recovered from their injuries and are fit for selection, with only Irfan Pathan with a shoulder injury still not 100 per cent fit.

The hosts have left out Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan and S Sreesanth from the 12 announced for the match, while the Lankans on the other hand, would prefer to name their 11 just before the toss.

The wicket looks a good batting wicket which is expected to play slower and take turn as the match progresses.

Indians would have to pull up their socks, especially their batsmen, if they want to have a realistic chance of scoring over the Lankans, who have their tail up after the nail-biting win in Rajkot, and take the series into a decider.

With the exception of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, none of the other batsmen have struck form so far and it is important specially for Virender Sehwag to get some useful runs under his belt.

For Sehwag, with the suspense of the World Cup squad now over, this is the perfect time to regain his touch. Sehwag, who has been going through a prolonged form slump but with the selectors reposing faith on his match-winning abilities, it is time for him to justify his inclusion and get back into form in the remaining two matches before boarding the flight to the West Indies.

Sehwag, in his comeback match at Rajkot, looked ill at ease at the crease and finally got out to a poor shot while scoring 19 in the middle order.

The Indian bowling looks good with Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan in good form with Harbhajan Singh also looking dangerous and if the wicket does take spin, he can prove more than a handful for the Lankans.

The Lankans, led by Mahela Jayawardene, looks a changed side and more committed from the one that lost 1-6 to India 14 months before.

They will be eager to carry on their good show and nail the hosts here.

For the Lankans, they will be depending on opener Sanath Jayasuirya who has been batting well, though he failed in the last match and Kumara Sangakkara, who is in the form of his life.

There was a slight injury worry over Sangakkara with the wicket-keeper batsman suffering from an upset stomach. He, however, is expected to be fit for the match, skipper Mahela Jayawardene informed.

If at all anything would be bothering the Islanders is the form of their captain. Jayawardene has gone through quite a few matches without scoring and he would like to put that behind him with a good score over here. This would also give him the needed confidence with the World Cup around the corner.

The Lankan bowling without Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, who are both recovering from niggles, is definitely slightly weakened, but with Fervez Maharoof and Malinga Bandara showing that they can deliver the goods, it is a good sign for the Lankans for the World Cup and even beyond that.

Meanhwile, the police have provided hightened security for the match and all spectators entering the ground will be thoroughly checked before entering the stands.

Superindent of Police Shekhar Prabhudesai said elaborate arrangements have been kept in place to avoid any crowd trouble or any fake tickets being circulated. 1,500 police personnel, along with two companies of CISF and 150 TOPS security agency personnel from Mumbai have been deployed to avoid any untoward incident.

The Teams:

India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Sourav Ganguly, Robin Uthappa, Sachin Tendulkar (vice-capt), Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthick, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel. Coach: Greg Chappell.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Kumara Sangakkara (vice-capt, wk), T Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Marvan Atapattu, Malinga Bandara, D Fernando, Nuwan Kalasekara, Fervez Maharoof, Chamara Silva, Nuwan Zoysa and Lasith Malinga. Coach: Tom Moody


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