India face first real challenge against the West Indies


Mahendra Singh Dhoni and company have so far shown great resolve by being unperturbed by the off-field controversies surrounding the team and living up to their defending champions' tag by recording facile wins against Bangladesh and Ireland in their Group A league matches.
But the path here onwards will be difficult for them to tread on especially after explosive opener Virender Sehwag, who can turn the tide in his team's favour on his day, was ruled out of the tournament owing to a shoulder injury.
"It's good to be in Super Eight. From now, each and every game would be difficult," Dhoni admitted.
While makeshift opener Rohit Sharma is doing his best to ensure that team does not feel the absence of Sehwag, captain Dhoni is elated at the return of form of his bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan, who recovered just in time from his shoulder injury.
Zaheer, with his 4-19 against Ireland yesterday, has rediscovered his rhythm and that will surely boost India's bowling strength.

Dhoni was visibly relieved after seeing Zaheer, also adjudged the man of the match, getting into the groove so soon at Trent Bridge.
"It's really good that he is back in form. He was back in the groove, swinging the ball and hitting the right areas. Our bowlers did really well with the new ball and the spinners did their job too. I'm happy with our bowling," Dhoni said.
Dhoni used the warm-up matches as well as the group matches to experiment before he zeroes down on the final combination and the strategy for the main part of the tournament.
"We are trying a few things. I think we have to see what combination we are playing with and decide depending on that," he said.
In the fielding department, the Indian skipper wants his players to pull up their socks for success. "In the field, we didn't perform our best. We can definitely be better in the field. It's like 80-90 per cent efficiency. I'm getting demanding but I know we can do it".
Dhoni appears to be justified in being a bit demanding as the West Indies seems to swear by the Twenty20 format and have just tasted blood by knocking out Australia.
West Indian captain Chris Gayle wants to embrace T20 completely, even at the cost of Tests or one-dayers, and it's a philosophy which is slowing permeating down to every single individual of the side.

Opener Gayle himself is West Indies' biggest strength, the highest scorer of the present tournament, the only batsman in the history of T20 internationals to have hit a hundred, and a typhoon who on his day can make attacks shudder.
Gayle is West Indies lynchpin but there are number of formidable strikers, backed by a limpet at the crease in Shivnaraine Chanderpaul.
Xaiver Marshall, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Andre Fletcher, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin come in succession and clearly it's a batting which can put the fear of god in any bowling line-up.
The bowling too has impressive spearheads in Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor who are fast yet different, one whose yorkers are well-guided missiles and the other whose lifters with swing, often late, can wreck carnage on opposition.
This is a line-up which would test Dhoni's theories to the utmost. The Indian skipper likes to hold wickets in hand for a late assault but Edwards and Taylor are just the kind of bowlers who can test such a resolve.
Dhoni also likes to have match-winning bowlers and all four of his protagonists -- Zaheer and Ishant; Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha -- fit the ball but in a shorter format of the game against destructive bats like Gayle, anything can happen.
The only weakness of Gayle's team is its inconsistency and the flips and flops of the Caribbean sides in recent years is almost notorious.

Then there is West Indies' fielding which, along with Pakistan, got to be the worst in this tournament. By the own admission of their captain, West Indies conceded 20 extra runs to Australia in the field last week. That they were still able to put it beyond Australia was due to the mercurial talent of Gayle.
Teams (from):
India: Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha.
West Indies: Chris Gayle (capt), Denesh Ramdin, Lionel Baker, Sulieman Benn, David Bernard, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Xavier Marshall, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and Rudy Koertzen (South Africa)
Third umpire: Mark Benson
Match referee: Chris Broad.
Match starts at 10 pm IST.

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