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BISHAN SINGH BEDI

Mr Bedi is a former cricketer.

Batting order starts to relax if Sachin scores

ndia is all set to play West Indies in a do-or-die match in Chennai today. The World Cup campaign has not been as consistent as most fans in India would have liked, and they're yet to win against a truly strong opponent, coming close but ultimately failing to win against both England and South Africa. They have also struggled to win against minnows like Netherlands and Ireland, while the batting against South Africa was tantamount to hara-kiri.

I have seen that whenever Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag give India a good start, the dressing room tends to relax and take it easy. Last Saturday, they looked more than relaxed; they were extremely complacent as they watched Sachin bat like a god. It is one thing to admire the Master Blaster play shots with élan, but in no way does it give the rest of the team the privilege to let loose and become irresponsible. In spite of the powerful batting lineup, they collapsed like dominoes; they should have batted with more responsibility. Playing rash strokes and losing the last nine wickets for a paltry 29 runs on a very good batting track is nothing less than a criminal offence.

Also, I believe that India has seen enough of Yusuf Pathan. Since he has failed in almost all the matches this World Cup, he must be replaced immediately, preferably by Suresh Raina. Not only is Raina a better bowler and a livewire on field, he can be very handy as a lower middle order batsman.

It was a bad move by Dhoni to send in Yusuf at number four against South Africa. Virat Kohli is a better batsman in that slot. Not only he is a good runner between the wickets, he can nudge singles well and convert them into doubles. He is also a prolific boundary-hitter in the slog overs. He should be utilised in better fashion by the team management instead of being sent to bat at number seven.

part from Pathan, the team management should reconsider Ashish Nehra's utility in the team. He gave away 14 runs in the final over against South Africa. Not only that, he looked completely unfit and his bowling was out of form. India should play two pacers in the form of Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel. However, it is better for the Indian team to play a spinner in place of Nehra in today's match.

Ravichandran Ashwin is a name that has been heard so much in the news in the past few days without him having bowled a single ball in the World Cup. It is high time Dhoni recognises Ashwin's potential and gives him a chance to play on home turf. No one knows the Chennai wicket better than him in the team. Also, Ashwin can share the new ball with Zaheer. Moreover, the England-West Indies match showed that the 22 yards of Chepauk Stadium is conducive for spinners. Thus, Harbhajan must be tempted to bowl on this wicket.

Looking at past results, today's high-voltage match between India and West Indies should be a low scoring match, and whoever wins the toss should look to bat first. In the last two matches played in the Chepauk Stadium this World Cup, the team who bat first won the match. Chasing under light on a spinning track will be difficult; moreover, India should not make the mistake of underestimating the Caribbean spinners as Benn and Bishoo have been highly impressive throughout the tournament.

Captain Dhoni has failed to impress me, yet again. He is lacking in positive energy and much-needed team spirit. It seems that the past successes have made him condescending. His batting form has deteriorated, he is not thinking out of the box, and he looks puzzled and perplexed in tense situations. Dhoni probably needs to humble himself a little bit and recognise that there is a senior pro in the form of Sachin Tendulkar in his team. He should shrug off his ego and take Sachin's advice as a change will not cost our captain much. On the contrary, his arrogance might cost us the World Cup.

Today is Holi. May this auspicious day bring luck and good fortune to Team India for a power-packed performance.

 
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