India aim for no slip ups against Scotland
India will launch their campaign in the Twenty20 World Cup with a group-D match against lowly Scotland in Durban on Thursday, hoping to fine-tune their skills and strategies for the tougher games ahead.
The Indians have virtually no experience in this slam-bang version of the game having played just one match before and it remains to be seen how quickly the team adapts to the requirements.
With the long tour of Ireland and England ending just a few days back, the Indian team, under a new captain in dashing Mahendra Singh Dhoni, hardly had time to settle down and get to know the nitty-gritty of the game or acclimatise to the conditions.
But they will be bolstered by some fresh legs in Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh, who would use this opportunity to prove their worth and make a return to the national side.
The first task for the Indians will be to get their playing combination right and get used to the bouncy track and the strong wind. It is important for them to hit form early as they square up against traditional rivals Pakistan the following day at the same venue.
So, while Scotland may be no more than a sparring partner, there is every reason for the Indians to get a head start as they eye the big game against Pakistan.
"We are playing the second World Cup in this year but what happened in the West Indies is history. This is a fresh start and I want my team to enjoy the game," captain Dhoni said.
Having arrived just 48 hours back from a long tour of Ireland and England, the Indians have had little time to get their strategy in place. And yet, their biggest headache remains in picking their best eleven.
"The good thing about this team is that 12 of our 15 players can bat and bowl. That gives us lots of options. We have a young and determined side and we are fortunate enough to have 3-4 good finishers in the team," Dhoni said.
For, when you have seniors like Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar and Dinesh Karthik competing for spots in the first eleven against the likes of Piyush Chawla, S Sreesanth and Yusuf Pathan respectively, it is not easy to make your pick.
However, among the certainties, Sehwag should be opening with Robin Uthappa, with Yuvraj Singh coming in at number three or four – if the team sticks to Gautam Gambhir at number three. Dhoni himself can be in at number five, or even higher, depending upon the situation.
Among others, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan and Joginder Sharma can be useful all-rounders. While picking their bowlers, the Indians will do well to make sure they do not have a suspect tail. For flexibility will the buzzword and everyone needs to stand up and be counted.