Gambhir takes nothing for granted
More than a billion viewers are expected to tune in when Australia take on India - both unbeaten sides in the competition so far - in a World Twenty20 Super Eights clash that promises much. Both teams, particularly India, have benefited from the experience in the Indian Premier League (IPL) season, while Australia are on a mission to prove they can play well in the shortest version of the game, which points to a cracking match at Bridgetown.
Suresh Raina has continued the batting form he showed playing for Chennai Super Kings, the IPL winners, with a match-winning hundred against South Africa. He is likely to be singled out by the equally confident Australia fast bowlers. The one setback for the India team, however, is the absence of Praveen Kumar, their medium pacer, who has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament after suffering a groin injury against South Africa. But as one Kumar makes an exit, another could take a bow. Vinay Kumar, Praveen's Royal Challengers Bangalore new-ball partner, is being considered for an international debut.
Whether Vinay plays or not, Shane Watson, who is having a great year with the bat, will keep the Indian attack on their toes in the first 10 overs. But so unpredictable is Twenty20 cricket, it is hard to imagine who the winner is likely to be irrespective of form and confidence. Gautam Gambhir, who is also having a good year, seconded that when he told Hindustan Times: "You can't go into any T20 match with pre-conceived notions about how you will play. When you go out to bat, you have to react to the situation in front of you.
"You can't just say today I'll take time to get my eye in and go after the bowling later. The first six overs might be the best time to score quickly. You have to go in, see the ball and play accordingly." Gambhir, though, added that batsmen like Raina and himself are rightly expected to fire. "It is always good that you have been scoring well for a while when you come into a tournament like this. The team wants you to score more and more. This is one tournament where you want to really step up and show good form."
Meanwhile, Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, has said that his batsmen are ready for a trial by spin when they faced India. "I think spin bowling is going to play a big part in this tournament, whether that's how you face spin or you bowl spin," Clarke told the Press Association. "India have got some good spin bowlers, Harbhajan Singh is one of the best in the world, so we're going to have to work out a plan against him and back ourselves at that. Every player in our team plays spin bowling differently. You need to be confident with your plan and stick to that."
The West Indies, who are the hosts, come up against Sri Lanka in the other game today. Thilan Thushara, the left-arm fast bowler, has flown in as a cover for Muttiah Muralitharan, the injured off-spinner. Muralitharan suffered a groin injury during last week's first-round match against New Zealand and although Sri Lanka have opted to keep the bowling great with the team in the Caribbean, his participation in the tournament is in doubt.
* Compiled by Amith Passela, with agencies Australia v India, 5.30pm, and West Indies v Sri Lanka, 9.30pm, both on CricOne
Published: May 7, 2010 04:00 AM