Colombo: After a two month vacation, Team India returns to centre stage when they take on New Zealand in the second match of Compaq Cup at Colombo.
The Indian team is already without the services of two of its star players, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, both of whom are injured. However, Sachin Tendulkar's return to the side gives a huge fillip to side and team will be looking up to provide a cracking start at the top. India also has faith in Dravid, who had returned to the side after a gap of two years. Dravid"s presence at three will be vital, particularly if India is batting second, when the ball has tended to do things under lights.
A win against Kiwis today will put India in the finals of the tournament. Friday's game is a do or die match for the Kiwis and they have to win with a bonus point just to be on the safer side, in case if all the teams are tied on points at the end of the league phase.
India has an impressive 17-5 win-loss record in this period extending back to last August, its other series victories coming at the expense of Sri Lanka (twice), England, and, most recently, the West Indies.
India has also done extremely well at the Premadasa Stadium in this period, winning five of its seven matches. A large part of it has had to do with its faster bowlers dictating play under lights, exploiting Sri Lanka"s congenital weakness against seam bowling.
India trails number-one ranked South Africa by just one rating point, but if it wins all the three matches (including the final), it will gain two ratings points which will put it in number one position for the first time since the rankings were introduced in October 2002.
However, if India loses one match in the tournament, it will stay on 126 ratings points while defeat in two matches will drop it to 123 ratings points.
India (From): Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni(w/c), Yusuf Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Dinesh Karthik, Abhishek Nayar, Rudra Pratap Singh
New Zealand (From): Brendon McCullum(w), Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori(c), Kyle Mills, Shane Bond, Ian Butler, Grant Elliott, Jeetan Patel, Brendon Diamanti, Gareth Hopkins, Daryl Tuffey