Hobart, Feb 27: India's chances of reaching the tri-series finals are still alive, but it is not entirely in their hands. At first, they have an uphill task of securing a bonus-point victory against Sri Lanka on Tuesday here at the Bellerive Oval and hope for an Australian win over the Islanders in the final league game on Friday in Melbourne.
Also read: Sachin should not been given out, says Dhoni
As things stand, India are still in contention for a berth in the finals which is a relief for an average fan. But, expecting a bonus-point victory from this faltering team may be too much. For the record, in seven games, MS Dhoni and his boys have not secured even a single bonus point. How can one expect a sudden turnaround in possibly the last day of the dismal Australian tour.
Just victory will not help India as they cannot catch up Sri Lanka on points. Even if they win, they will be knocked out of the tournament.
Australia are already through to the best-of-three finals with 19 points. Sri Lanka are on 15 followed by India with 10.
Batting has been a big worry for India as they succeeded in only two chases of the seven. It would be ideal for India to bat first and set up a target for Sri Lanka. Then, there might be more chances of India taking that bonus point as they will know how much they have to restrict the opposition to.
For that to happen, first, Dhoni has to get lucky with the coin during the toss. He has won only one toss, during the first game and has been forced to bat second on all occasions. In the opener, he opted to bowl first since rain had threatened to spoil the game.
India's problems start at the top. Openers have not clicked, barring one half century stand. It is time to drop Virender Sehwag and bring in Manoj Tiwary, who is waiting for his chance since arriving in the country.
The team management needs to change things by sending Irfan Pathan as an opener. He has been good with the bat so far and the Baroada all-rounder had previously faced the new ball during Greg Chappell's era.
Pathan can walk out with Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir can be slotted in at number three. Virat Kohli also needs to fire and Dhoni has to get a lot of support from his batsmen. Or else India will have to pack their bags and leave the country on Wednesday morning.
It was surprising to note that Dhoni was not aware of the playing conditions and had already given up on hopes of finals' qualification. He did admit that he was not good at mathematics and would leave the calculations to others. Dhoni had said it would be difficult to make for net run rate as it was out of their reach. However, net run rate is not calculated here to decide on who goes to the final. It is on number of wins first and then head-to-head records, then bonus points and finally net run rate.
Vinay Kumar, who was ruled out of Sunday's game due to a hamstring problem, might not play again. Praveen Kumar did well in his place. Zaheer Khan is down with a calf injury.
Sri Lanka are in top form with a hat-trick of wins and how India will stop them is a big question. Captain Mahela Jayawardene has lead from the front by opting to open and has been successful.
They have three all-rounders in Farveez Maharoof, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews. The trio is doing well with Perera having been instrumental in winning their previous game against Australia.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Chanaka Welegedera, Dhammika Prasad.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Australia) and Simon Taufel (Australia)
Third Umpire: Simon Fry (Australia)
Match Referee: Chris Broad (England)
Match starts at 8.50 AM IST
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