One-Day Mataram

Deconstructing the gentleman's game

Match Preview: India Vs. Namibia

Last time around, when I wrote a preview for an India match, it was India taking on the world champions, Australia. And, unfortunately, Indians proved to be cannon-fodder for the strong bowling that the Aussies have. The much-vaunted Indian batting line-up wilted under pressure as they were skittled out for a paltry total.

Pietermaritzburg Oval, Pietermaritzburg I do not expect the same to happen this time around as I preview the match against Namibia.

Namibia have proved to be the surprise packages of this World Cup. Though they haven't won any of their matches, they certainly have looked far better than their position in world cricket. And Indians would be well advised against taking this opposition lightly. After all, had the weather intervened in their match against England, Namibia could have well won that match, courtesy of Messrs. Duckworth and Lewis.

Not much isknown about the Naimibian batting or their bowling lineup, but based on their performances so far in this World Cup, the Burgers looked to be decent players so does Koetze. More than relying on the talent or genius of their players, Namibia relies heavily on doing the basic things right. Their bowling, while not half as threatening as any of the top teams, is adequate. We know all too well how the Indians struggled initially against the disciplined Dutch attack. So, Sehwag and Yuvraj and co. should look to rein in their attacking instincts before getting their eyes in. Then, the inexperience of Namibia will work to the Indian advantage.

About the Indian batting order, rumours mills are working overtime once again, as they do before any Indian match these days. It is certain that Sehwag and Tendulkar will continue to open the innings. But Saurav Ganguly is supposed to come in at one-drop. I think that is an excellent move. For one, a class player like Ganguly should get maximum number of overs to bat. Secondly, Ganguly looked to be getting back to his ways in the last match against Zimbabwe. His huge six was an indicator of some confidence returning. Thirdly, Ganguly is not as good as Dravid as partnering the tail-enders. So, dropping Ganguly down the order will leave him clueless as "a child in a topless bar"!! (sorry!!... but just could not resist that Sidhusim!) My man at two down is Yuvraj. He has not been getting much of chances lately and it shows in his approach in batting. I mean he looks to reach out for the ball too early in his innings. He needs a good long outing in the middle and this particular match is as good as any to let him have it. Dravid should come in after him, followed by Kaif. And my view is that instead of having the 7th batsman, India should fortify their bowling attack. Which could mean the inclusion of either Bangar or Agarkar. But I am partial towards the inclusion of Agarkar, simply because he is much much experienced than Bangar and knows how to play in a World Cup match. The rest of the bowling should not be tampered with. I am not in favour of playing Kumble in this match. Nehra who bowled accurately at speeds of 150 Kmph should be encouraged to do the same in this match so that he gets into the groove of bowling at express speeds consistently. Bhajji and Srinath pick themselves up.

All this talk of team compositions and strategies may well come to naught if the weather gods play spoilsport at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Sunday. The clouds have been gathering with the sun appearing as if for an entr'acte. If that happens, and the teams have to share points, the path to a SuperSix spot will become all the more rocky for the Indians. So keeping the fingers crossed for fair weather in Pietermaritzburg. One last thought on the weather and the team composition... Having an extra bowler like Agarkar would be ideal since it would lend some more teeth to the Indian attack which is vital since the Duckworth-Lewis rule takes into account the number of wickets to have fallen.

So, there you have it... a preview with a strong Indian bias... which is solely because Namibia is a completely unknown factor.

My Prediction: Indians should walk away with the match, period. Any other result would be a disappointment! (and that's putting it very mildly!)

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