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India vs WI: Much to play for

India take on West Indies in Chennai in the final game of the group stages of Cricket World Cup 2011. After England won against West Indies and SA beat Bangladesh, most would think this is a game with no significance. Actually, this match changes more than what meets the eye.

Statiscally, there is a chance that WI might still lose the QF spot if they lose by 769 runs or more. Not practical. Secondly, this game decides which teams take the 2nd and 3rd spot of Group B. This is key really, because winner of this match, would meet Australia in QFs while the loser will meet the balanced Sri Lankans. In the current scenario, meeting Australia is better than meeting Sri Lanka. Not saying India or West Indies will obviously win against Australia, but Sri Lanka will be tougher as they have much better bowling attack. So, both teams will look to win this match and hope to play Ponting’s men.

West Indies

A team that as we all know, have been on the decline since a long time now, cannot be counted out at all. With some good players who can change the game easily, this team has the potential of beating a good team on its day. After all, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Kemar Roach are not known without a reason. Add to this, the inconsistent but highly rated (by mosts) Kieron Pollard. The problem for West Indies is that neither their bowling or batting is exceptionally good. Both have a few high points but also have some issues.

The loss of Dwayne Bravo has dented the balance of the side. Their batting is too dependent on Gayle and Sarwan, particularly if Chanderpaul doesn’t play. Ideally, he should because WI have been often dismissed inside the 50 overs. So, someone of the calibre of Chanderpaul to hold the innings together could be crucial. Also, neither third seamer Darren Sammy nor Suleiman Benn are very impressive. Wouldn’t expect Benn to trouble the Indians much, unless they try to take him apart and instead fall to bad shots.


India

The main hosts off the WC haven’t won any of their games convincingly, even though some would settle for even one run victory as long as they win. Needless to say, India relies heavily on its strong batting and would look to capatalize on the same so as to put up a fighting total if they bat first. Reports suggest that Yusuf Pathan will be dropped from this match, which I am not particularly happy about. Nonetheless, the one thing India would want to do is bat the whole quota of 50 overs which they didn’t manage against both England and South Africa.

Bowling wise, Zaheer Khan has been and will always be key for India. On the turning track of Chennai, Harbhajan Singh and local lad could come in handy. A score of 250-260 can be defended but India’s fielding needs to be tighter. Dropping catches, giving away easy singles or twos shouldn’t be allowed, not only in this game, but any game for that matter.

And yeah, it is Chennai, so Sachin Tendulkar‘s good record will be talked about. I don’t think tomorrow is going to be his day, but then my guess is as good as yours.

Prediction

India are favourites for sure and I would call it 65-35 in favour of the hosts. Don’t be surprised if this is one of the few one-sided games of this group. Funnily, both the teams haven’t beaten any test playing nation except Bangladesh in this World Cup, so they would look to improve that record for sure.

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