England captain Stuart Broad stresses upon the surprising ‘bounce’ in the pitch
It would be a fallacy to read much into the contrasting nature of victories that emphatic England and diffident India scripted against Afghanistan in the current ICC World Twenty20.
But in the tenor of a few questions that were raised at press conferences on Friday night and on Saturday noon, a wide gap in quality was sought to be built between India and England.
Thankfully M.S. Dhoni and Stuart Broad refused to bite the bait. Both the skippers saw the Group A match, at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Sunday night, as a contest in its own right without the hangover of the Afghan encounters.
Openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have sporadically fired alone but not in tandem over the last year. In their latest outings in Sri Lanka, Sehwag and Gambhir have had partnerships of 9, 41 and 15 from the two warm-up games and the match against Afghanistan.
It is not an easy task for Kohli to constantly meld the two extremes of dropping anchor, a natural corollary of an early fall of the first wicket, and pressing the accelerator, a demand that Twenty20 constantly imposes.
But he has been forced to do that and it’s a piquant situation because walking in at No. 4 is Yuvraj Singh, who is still finding his base again in international cricket.
The bowling too has had its fault-lines with Zaheer Khan struggling to lend an incisive touch.
A few changes will occur in the playing eleven as the captain is keen to give wider exposure to a larger pool of players before the Super Eights.
England though would hope that its batting display against Afghanistan, would find a strong echo against India too. It is a matter of conjecture whether Dhoni spoke spontaneously or just played a mind-game when he said that Broad’s men would have been a more difficult side to handle if Kevin Pietersen was part of the line-up.
Meanwhile, Broad stressed upon the surprising ‘bounce’ in the pitch and may be he and his fellow speedsters might try to hustle the Indians, but these conditions may not necessarily suit such plans.
The teams (from):
India: M.S. Dhoni (captain), G. Gambhir (vice-captain), V. Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, S. Raina, V. Kohli, Rohit Sharma, M. Tiwary, Zaheer Khan, L. Balaji, Irfan Pathan, A. Dinda, Harbhajan Singh, R. Ashwin and P. Chawla.
England: S. Broad (captain), J. Bairstow, R. Bopara, T. Bresnan, D. Briggs, J. Buttler, J. Dernbach, S. Finn, A. Hales, C. Kieswetter, M. Lumb, E. Morgan, S. Patel, G. Swann and L. Wright.
Umpires: Aleem Dar and Simon Taufel; Third umpire: Kumar Dharmasena.
Keywords: Twenty20 World Cup