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It's do or die for India

Such was the drama surrounding Mahendra Singh Dhoni's appointment as Indian captain for the home series against Australia and Pakistan that it was almost forgotten India still had a big match to play against England on Wednesday.

The Twenty20 has already been good to a few players: For Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan, it has been, in a way, mission accomplished as they have returned to the ODI squad.

In the T20 context, though, both India and England have one problem in common: Stemming the flow of runs in the last few overs. Against both Pakistan and New Zealand, an avalanche of runs at the death from the opposition's blade has altered the course of the game.

England too suffered for similar reasons against South Africa and against New Zealand. No wonder both find themselves with their backs to the wall. Any slip-up here, and both could well find themselves on their way out.

Both teams have played each other so often in the recent past in the 50-over game that Collingwood said he thought "we have a fair idea of what they might try to do". But this is T20, and here there might be no psychological edge.

Durban isn't as flat a batting track as the Wanderers and though conditions are drier than they were during the Pakistan game a few days back, the bowling will play a crucial role. India's problems are they don't have enough utility players who make an impact.

Agarkar and Yuvraj Singh haven't been up to the mark with the ball and there's no way of gauging whether India's next best option of playing two specialist spinners in Bhajji and Piyush Chawla will bear fruit.

Dhoni's biggest concern, however, is that the top batters haven't clicked together. Against Pakistan, the openers fell and only Uthappa's audacious strokeplay propped India. Sehwag and Gambhir looked like single-handedly wresting the game from the Kiwis, but after they fell, the rest failed to capitalise.

Ironically, the only area of no concern is the fielding: A younger looking team has made amends for the shoddy showing in England and even the direct hits have been surprisingly frequent.

England came into the tournament with the most Twenty20 experience but till now they haven't looked the part. India, on the other hand, had the least. Wednesday will provide whether experience really matters in this format.

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