West Indies Vs India
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Chennai, March 20: The loss to a resurgent England in their World Cup fixture at Chennai on Thursday, would only spur the West Indies into coming hammer and tongs at India when the two sides meet at the same venue on Sunday afternoon. India might still be a little shaken from the manner in which it lost to South Africa last Sunday and will be hoping that it's middle-order comes good against the pace and spin of the Windies attack.
India however, should derive inspiration from the fact that since the last World Cup, it has beaten the Windies three times and has only lost to these opponents once. India's last win against the team from Caribbean, which occurred during the Champions Trophy of Sept 2009, was the most convincing, being by 7 wickets with 107 balls to spare.
In the series in the West Indies earlier that year, it was M S Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh who topped the run-getters charts with aggregates of 182 and 168 respectively and with ultra-impressive averages of 91.00 and 56.00. Meanwhile, for the Windies, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle were only able to notch up averages of 44.50 and 32.00 in a modest response.
Ashishs Nehra should be forgiven his faux pas of conceding 13 runs in the last over against the Proteas on March 12 and be given a bowl against the Windies as he is the mostly successful Indian bowler against this opposition. He has taken a total of 9 wickets from 5 matches at an average just under 20. Meanwhile Zaheer Khan, who is averaging a robust 16.41 in the Cup with 12 wickets from 5 matches, should keep up the good form.
While there is not much doubt about the ability of Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar at launching an all-out assault against the Windies, they have to be wary of the guile of young Devendra Bishoo. The leg-break proved to possess potent prowess at his trade when he took 3/34 against England the other night. Moreover, Sachin and Viru have shown that they are quite vulnerable to spinners in the tournament so far.
Yuvraj Singh,with a World Cup 2011 average of 85.50, means that he will burdened with the onus of holding the middle order together with M S Dhoni who bears a tournament average of 48.00, while Yusuf Pathan who has managed to garner just 15.75 runs per match should probably be asked to sit out in favour of Suresh Raina as the young southpaw has eagerly been waiting in the wings to make his World Cup debut.
Another Indian player that should be given a shot at World Cup glory is off-break Ravichandran Ashwin. So much has been made of his subtle and potent variations in pace and his carrom ball, it is shame that he hasn't been presented the opportunity to showcase his impressive armoury.
The Windies batting is looking pretty strong with openers Chris Gayle and Devon Smith averaging a sizable 54.00 and 42.40 respectively in the WC 2011, while the middle order with Darren Bravo (avg 29.25) and Kieron Pollard (avg 44.50) are also in decent touch.
But India will truly have to watch out for the opposition's bowlers who have been quite effective in the tournament thus far. Paceman Kemar Roach has a wicket tally of 13 at an average of 12.00, while off-break Sulieman Benn has 12 scalps at 17.16 runs conceded per.
India began it's league stage campaign with an emphatic win over Bangladesh. Now let's see if it can kiss goodbye to this phase of the Cup with victory again. The Windies will certainly not make it easy.