India look to extend winning run

Indian captain M S Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan in action during a practice session at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Indian captain M S Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan in action during a practice session at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)

 After completing their Australia leg of the group phase, India travel to New Zealand to play their last two World Cup Pool B matches, the first against Ireland at the Seddon Park here .

The Irish team has been the most impressive and consistent among all Associate members with three wins in four matches.

Though their only loss came against powerhouse South Africa, they have beaten two Test playing nations — the West Indies and Zimbabwe. To add to that they also beat another Associate, the United Arab Emirates.

With India already qualified for the quarterfinals and South Africa also likely to join them, it will be an open fight between Ireland, Pakistan and the West Indies for the last two berths left in the pool.

To secure a spot, they would have to come out with the goods against the defending champions India, or later versus Pakistan.

Though India’s batting order is pretty solid, Windies bowlers showed that they are nevertheless brittle, which Ireland would like to exploit.

However, on the positive side for India, Irish bowlers have not been as good as their batsmen, having been hammered for 300 plus totals thrice in four matches.

However, India are alien to New Zealand conditions, having played all their four matches in Australia and the minnows could try and make use of that.

Ireland’s batting has been splendid in this tournament with the entire line-up getting runs with opener Ed Joyce scoring the only century for their team in this World Cup against Zimbabwe.

India, on the other hand, would like to maintain their winning run. They have now won eight consecutive Cup matches, equalling their longest streak in 2003.

The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side would like to get used to the conditions, in case it plays its knockouts in Kiwi land.

It was important that Dhoni also got some time out in the middle when he guided India to victory against the Windies from a precarious position.

As mentioned before, though Indian batsman have come out good in quadrennial the tournament, the Windies game showed there is room for much improvement.

Meanwhile, India’s bowling, traditionally considered their weak point, has gone from strength-to-strength and is looking impeccable. Seamers and spinners alike, they have been in top form and have been able bowl out the opposition in all four matches.

But there is a chance that they might go for runs, considering the form of the Irish batsmen and short boundaries at the Seddon Park, like most New Zealand grounds.