6 impact players from India and Zimbabwe who can save the match for their team on Saturday
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India play their final Pool B game of the 2015 World Cup against Zimbabwe at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. The Men in Blue have been in excellent form in the tournament so far with both and ball, and deservedly sit on top of their group with 10 points in 5 matches.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, have already been eliminated from the tournament after their defeat to Ireland. But they still have pride to play for, and will be hoping to end their tournament on a high by pulling off an upset win over the Indians.
Here are 6 key players from the two sides who could make a huge impact on the game this Saturday.
1. Rohit Sharma
Entering the World Cup as one of India’s top batsmen, Rohit Sharma hasn’t quite set the pitch alight so far. The right-hander has scored two fifties in the tournament – against UAE and Ireland – but hasn't been able to play substantial innings in the other matches.
There's no doubt that Rohit is a very important member of the Indian batting line-up and so, heading into the quarterfinals, he would be hoping to get some more runs under his belt on Saturday. The whole world knows how much damage he can do when he gets going, and he is certainly due for a big score sometime soon.
2. Brendan Taylor
The Zimbabwean batting at the 2015 World Cup has revolved around right-hander Brendan Taylor. The 29-year-old has been his side's highest run-getter with 295 runs in 5 matches, including a valiant 91-ball 121 against Ireland that almost won his side the game at Hobart, last Saturday.
There would be added motivation for Taylor as he takes the field on Saturday, since it could be his last game for his country. He has already signed a Kolpak deal for three years with English county side Nottinghamshire; the deal, if approved by the England &Wales Cricket Board (ECB), would practically mean the end of Taylor’s career as a Zimbabwean cricketer.
3. Ravichandran Ashwin
Ashwin has certainly played a key role in India's five consecutive wins in the quadrennial event so far. The 28-year-old has picked up 11 wickets in those five matches, including a Man-of-the-Match spell against UAE in Perth, and has impressed one and all with the way he has bowled thus far.
He would be looking to put another good performance against Zimbabwe on Saturday and go into the quarterfinals with added confidence. And judging by the African nation’s traditional weakness against spin, he could well be the biggest threat from India.
4. Sean Williams
Along with Taylor, Sean Williams has been one of the shining lights in an otherwise disappointing campaign for Zimbabwe. The left-hander is his team's second highest run-getter with 289 runs in 5 matches at an average of 72.25, and he played a crucial knock of 76 not out off 65 balls that helped Zimbabwe chase down a target of 286 runs against UAE at Nelson.
He has also played an effective role for his side with the ball, having taken 7 wickets in 5 matches and breaking quite a few dangerous partnerships. Williams is easily the best all-rounder from either side that will take the field, and he seems set to put in one final all-round performance at the World Cup this weekend.
5. Mohammed Shami
Without a doubt, Mohammed Shami has been India's best fast bowler on display during this World Cup. The 25-year-old is his team's leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far with 12 scalps in 4 games, and has looked a completely different bowler as compared to the one that we saw during the tour of Australia.
MS Dhoni would be hoping that his main bowler puts in another good performance on Saturday and helps restrict the opposition to a modest total. Based on Shami’s showings so far, that is almost guaranteed.
6. Hamilton Masakadza
Prior to the start of the competition, Hamilton Masakadza was considered one of the key batsmen in the Zimbabwe batting line-up. But the 31-year-old hasn't put together the best of tournaments so far, having scored just 120 runs in 5 matches at an average of 24.
The right-hander would be looking to put his past performances behind and finish off his World Cup on a high on Saturday. He is like a wounded tiger right now, which could well make him doubly dangerous.