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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spot of bother

Let’s do it for Sachin Tendulkar, was the clarion call before the World Cup began. The paradox isn’t missed on anyone as it is Tendulkar who has been doing it for them this far.

Playing in his sixth World Cup the master continues to be unmatched where dedication is concerned. A good example of his commitment was witnessed at the Chepauk yesterday when Tendulkar batted for almost 80 minutes under an unforgiving sun ahead of the crucial group B tie against the West Indies on Sunday.

With some of the epic innings scripted here, this venue is close to Tendulkar’s heart and for the romantic there couldn’t be a better stage or occasion, in the context of where India currently stands, for him to bring up his hundredth international hundred here.

After two gems in this edition, which unfortunately didn’t count for much, the world’s premier batsman looks primed to reach that historic milestone here.

Even as some of his teammates disappeared inside the dressing room after a brief workout, Tendulkar kept fine tuning his batting and was the last man to leave the nets. His parable is a good lesson for those who undervalue the importance of slugging it out in the nets.

MS Dhoni, did finally show up for practice for the first time since the shattering three-wicket defeat against the South Africa Saturday last. Dhoni had missed the mandatory session on Thursday as he was reportedly suffering from cold.

Tough call
In the news for all the wrong reasons, the India captain will have a few tough decisions to make with regards to the make-up of the final XI. With the BCCI having stepped in to thaw the frosty relations between Dhoni and chief selector Krish Srikkanth, it’s purely a matter of conjecture to suggest who will be in and who will miss out.

However, there were a few pointers in the nets yesterday. Firstly, the team underwent a healthy fielding practice and that possibly could be a result of the chat board secretary N Srinivasan had with the team management on Thursday.

Ashish Nehra, who’s form and fitness was also discussed, finally bowled at length in the nets and that could possibly mean that Sunday could be a day of rest for Munaf Patel.

Interestingly, Piyush Chawla wasn’t seen bowling or batting in the nets, even though he was present at the ground. R Ashwin’s body language was oozing with confidence and that was a big give away sign that he’ll at last play his first ODI under Dhoni.

However, there’s still some speculation over the seventh batsman’s place. Suresh Raina has indicated that he’ll be picked for this game so it could be toss up between Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli.

47On the injury front, Virender Sehwag, reportedly battling a troubled left-knee, did a bit of knocking in the nets. At times, he did look in some discomfort but he is likely to recover before Sunday.

Wary of the naturals
West Indies is one side that India doesn’t play too often. Although the one-time giants of the game are no more the high and mighty, they have at least four or five naturals in their squad. And that is what India needs to be wary of.

The likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach and the new kid Andre Russell are match winners in their own different ways. Add to that India’s nemesis of old Shivnarine Chanderpaul and tactic wise Dhoni will have some thinking to do secure a place in the quarter-final without bothering much about the permutations and combinations.

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