Bangalore: A sensational upset against England has filled Ireland with hope, but coach Pete Johnston knows that India would be a tougher nut to crack when they clash in the World Cup Sunday.
“We know what it means to play a strong team like India,” Johnston said.
“They have a strong batting line-up and they are playing on home turf. (Virender) Sehwag and Sachin (Tendulkar) are there in the top order. Yuvraj (Singh) and Yusuf (Pathan) in the middle. We also have to face smart operators Zaheer (Khan) and Munaf (Patel), besides negotiating the spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla. We have to give them a tough fight to harbour any hopes of pulling off yet another upset,” he said.
Ireland is not taking anything for chance and the team sweated out in a practice session here Friday. The agile Irish players took to the ground early for a gruelling session at the nets, with England-slayer Kevin O’Brien being the cynosure of all eyes.
The Indians also had a rigorous practice session. After an hour long workout in the gym and three hours at the nets at the National Cricket Academy ground, coach Gary Kristen led the team into the stadium for unwinding with a soccer match in the post-lunch session.
India have three points from two matches, having beaten Bangladesh in the first match and managing to tie against England.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys have plenty to cover in the fielding and bowling departments, the two weaker areas of the home side, due to which England came close to chasing down 338 last Sunday.
Ireland, on the other hand have tasted a rare win over England and are raring to go against India, looking for another upset. They know that they can stay in the race for a berth in the knock-out stage.
“India cannot afford to take Ireland lightly as England did and paid dearly. The home team’s emphatic victory over a fledgling Bangladesh in Dhaka will not count much against top teams like South Africa. Even Ireland proved that they are not a pushovers,” said Sujith Somasunder, a former international.
India will surely watch out for Kevin, who hit the fastest World Cup century to upset England. Kevin turned the game around with Alex Cusack (47) with a 162-run sixth wicket partnership.
The wicket at the Chinnaswamy stadium is flat and produced two high scoring matches. There was little for the spinners as one would have hoped after India’s warm up match against Australia. Dhoni may go for an extra bowler as even pacers Zaheer and Munaf struggled to contain the English top order, especially skipper Andrew Strauss, who hit a fine 158.
“India should be looking to post over 350 if they bat first. If they bowl first, they should contain Ireland, who are upbeat after their victory against England and would be eyeing another kill,” said Somasunder.