Team India seek bowlers to halt Irish charge
Bangalore: While all eyes will be on the batsmen as India look to tame ‘giant-killers’ Ireland on Sunday at the batting paradise called the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, it is actually the bowlers who hold the key to victory.
With the focus back on the venue which has thrown up two of the most memorable matches ever seen at the World Cup -- featuring an eye-watering 1332 runs in just two games -- yet another run feast is expected.
However, no one will be willing to bet that India have an easy ride ahead of them.
Ireland have earned the respect of the cricketing fraternity after their shock three-wicket win over England -- the same team against whom India managed to eke out a tie off the very last ball of the match.
With all four innings passing the 300-run mark, batsmen will be licking their lips in anticipation. But the team that will come up trumps is the one which has the hungrier bowlers.
The intelligent bowler, willing and able to vary his line and length, use subtle changes in pace, bowl to his field and, most importantly, bowl to take wickets rather than contain the batsmen, is what both teams need.
This is where Zaheer Khan’s and Harbhajan Singh’s years of international experience will be invaluable for India. Ireland on the other hand have to draw on the learnings from a smattering of ODIs and some county exposure.
Indeed it was Zaheer’s magical spell with the old ball in the batting powerplay on Sunday that revived Indian fortunes as he halted the English juggernaut by taking three wickets with a good length delivery, a yorker and a slower ball.
Beside Harbhajan’s regular deliveries, his topspinner and ‘doosra’ will be quite bewitching to the Irish batsmen, who showed their lack of ability to deal quality spin bowling in the way they played Graeme Swann.
Ashish Nehra, if fit, has the ability to swing the ball and to bowl accurate yorkers and will come in handy especially when batsmen are looking for big hits.
Ireland, on the other hand, have an arsenal of all-rounders who can turn their arm over if called upon but do not really have the ability to pose much of a threat to the likes of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.
Boyd Rankin, Ireland’s leading wicket-taker during the 2007 World Cup, is the only bowler who has the ability to trouble the Indian batsmen with his pace and bounce.
Their spinners -- the 18-year-old George Dockrell and the 20-year-old Paul Stirling -- are blossoming talents but their mental toughness will be put to test against the Indian batsmen, who are probably the best player of the turning ball in world cricket.
Indeed, Tendulkar alone has been playing international cricket since before both of them were born and in that time has given the best of spinners nightmares.
The only edge Ireland hold over India is in the fielding department.
While the Irish have backed their bowlers to the hilt by chasing down every ball and going after every catch, the Indians have been generous hosts by gifting runs and lives to their opponents.
The Irish are riding high on confidence and they will be looking for a win to not only to move one step closer to a quarter-final berth but also to prove their performance against England was no fluke.