Relieved India face West Indies today

first_imgA few minutes past 3 pm on Saturday, members of the Indian team, while sharpening their fielding skills at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here, received the news of the team’s qualification for the quarter-finals.South Africa thrashed a listless Bangladesh by 206 runs in far off Dhaka to confirm India’s – as well as England’s – passage into the quarter-finals and kill the uncertainty about the home team’s progress to the next round going into a game against the West Indies here on Sunday.It will now be a placement battle in Group B as the West Indies too have virtually qualified on the basis of a better net run rate, though they are tied with Bangladesh on six points. South Africa finished atop the group with 10 points and India and England have seven each.With the four Group A teams having earlier qualified and Group B sides on Saturday, the 42nd and final league game on Sunday will determine the quarter-final line-up.Apart from trying to win the game so that they finish second in the group, India’s other interest in the day-night game would be to test out local off-spinner R Ashwin.Dhoni, as usual, refrained from committing on the XI, especially on the question of Ashwin. He merely said all untried players would get an opportunity before the knock-out round begins, and he can now afford to try out the untested without fear.”Initially, they did not get a chance to play. But everyone would have played at least one game before the knockout stage,” he said, dropping enough hints that the Ashwin would make his World Cup debut in front of his home crowd.advertisementIf Ashwin eventually plays his eighth One-Day International, the Indian XI could have two off-spinners, Harbhajan Singh being the other. Two off-spinners is a possibility as the West Indies have several left-handed batsmen.”That is definitely an option,” he said. “Whatever we have seen from all the games so far, it [the pitch] has assisted spinners and has decent bounce for fast bowlers at the same time, and they are able to get reverse swing. So, we will see how it looks tomorrow.”The lone concern for Dhoni could be Virender Sehwag’s knee, though the issue is not so crucial now unless it is a major injury. Since India are assured of a quarter-final spot, Dhoni can afford to rest the explosive in-form opener for this game, so that he regains fitness for India’s quarter-final to be played in Ahmedabad on March 24.”Viru has got an allergic reaction in his right knee,” Dhoni told reporters. Sehwag has been in fine form in the tournament and currently has the fourth highest tally (327 in five games). If he doesn’t play, Gautam Gambhir could open the innings with Sachin Tendulkar.Since the West Indies, too, have more or less made it to the next round, they would like to give opportunities to those who haven’t got enough matches or are struggling, though captain Darren Sammy insisted on fielding the best team.”Obviously, we will decide on the best XI to play against India. When we play a good opposition there are no considerations,” he said.last_img