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  • India not taking Ireland lightly

    India takes on Ireland in the final Group ‘A’ ICC WorldTwenty20 match on Wednesday with the knowledge that Virender Sehwag will take no further part in the competition. The aggressive opener will return home due to a shoulder injury. Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik is Sehwag’s replacement in the Indian squad.

    Both India and Ireland have qualified for the Super Eight. Irrespective of who wins Wednesday’s encounter, India will top the Group since it has been seeded higher. The duel against the spunky Ireland would provide India with valuable match-practice ahead of the crunch game. India will be bunched with England, West Indies and South Africa in one of the two Super Eight groups.

    Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side has the firepower in batting and the variation in bowling but will not be taking Ireland lightly. The Irish play their cricket with passion and have bucked the odds in the past.

    Capable side

    Ireland ambushed Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean and represents a greater threat in Twenty20 cricket where a handful of individual performances could swing a game.

    Importantly for India, the opening combination of Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma — a left-right pair — is running hot.

    Gambhir donned the role of the anchor against Bangladesh, rotating the strike, and producing the odd weighty blow. The bigger hitters can revolve around him.

    Rohit’s batting is an exotic blend of bat-speed, timing and inventiveness. A sense of adventure is unmistakable in his methods. He found the gaps or hit over the infield with panache in the Power Play overs against Bangladesh.

    Raina at No. 3?

    India, however, will have to sort out the No. 3 slot. Dhoni has walked in at this pivotal position but someone like the fluent left-hander, Suresh Raina, remains a viable option.

    The side lost some momentum against Bangladesh after the departure of Rohit before the match-winning Yuvraj Singh unleashed those meaty hits.

    Pacing the innings is crucial and any slackening of run-rate in the Super Eight stage and beyond could hurt India’s chances. India also has the option of sending power-hitter Yusuf Pathan up the order.

    The return of Zaheer Khan is good news for the side. The canny left-armer is a man for the big-stage with his precision, swing and cut.

    Perhaps, giving the new ball to Ishant Sharma would be a better ploy since India would then have a left-right pair of contrasts.

    Gets it right

    The think-tank, however, was spot on when it included a second specialist spinner in Pragyan Ojha. Left-armer Ojha’s flight, dip and turn, adds much to the attack. Experienced offie Harbhajan is someone who can bowl at any stage of the game. This Indian side is a well-balanced one.

    Ireland has a few valuable cricketers. Niall O’ Brien is a strokeful wicketkeeper-batsman of real quality. Kevin O’Brien is a powerful striker of the ball; one saw evidence of this against Bangladesh.

    The lanky Boyd Rankin can generate pace and extract bounce. Trent Johnston is a wily seamer; Ireland’s brand of medium-pace could be handy in the English conditions.

    In the spin department, Kyle McCallan is a steady offie.

    The teams: (from): India: M.S. Dhoni (capt.), G. Gambhir, Rohit, S. Raina, Yuvraj, Yusuf, Irfan, Harbhajan, Zaheer, P. Ojha, Ishant, Praveen, R. Jadeja, R.P. Singh.

    Ireland: W. Porterfield, J. Bray, N. O’Brien, K. O’Brien, R. West, T. Johnson, A. Cusack, G. Wilson, K. McCallan, J. Mooney, B. Rankin, A. Botha, P. Connell, A. White, P. Stirling.

    Umpires: N. Long & I. Gould.

    Third umpire: B. Bowden.

    Match Referee: C. Broad.

    Match starts at 10 p.m. (IST).

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