Harare: With their chances of making the final hanging by a thread, a beleaguered India will have to win and win it big when they take on Sri Lanka in a do-or-die match in the cricket tri-series on Saturday.
Smarting from the ignominy of being beaten twice by Zimbabwe in the tournament -- their first back-to-back defeats against the traditional minnows -- Suresh Raina and his teammates have their back against the wall with the prospect of an early exit looming large.
Given the scenario, India, who currently have just four points from just one win, have to beat the Lankans on Saturday with a bonus point and hope that the outcome of Monday's Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka match also goes their way.
A win and a bonus point will take India's tally to nine points, level with Zimbabwe. Raina and his men would then hope that Zimbabwe spring another surprise and upstage the Lankans, who have five points, in the final league encounter.
But all mathematical calculations hinge on an Indian win and they can take heart from the fact that they beat Tillakaratne Dilshan's men the first time around.
That win came on the back of some fantastic batting by Rohit Sharma, who struck a hundred, and Virat Kohli. The two rescued India from a wobbly start and guided them home.
But except for the two and to some extent Raina, India's batting has not been too impressive.
The Zimbabweans thoroughly exposed batting frailties and though the Lankans also have a relatively inexperienced squad, they would look to exploit the known chink in India's armour.
The openers have been a letdown and Raina had no hesitation admitting that the failure of Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik has hurt the side.
Rohit Sharma hit back-to-back centuries but it is unfair to expect him to bail out the side.
Lot would depend on Kohli and Raina as well, while Yusuf Pathan will also have to contribute, more so when the chips are down.
India's bowling has been largely toothless and none from the attack has made much of an impact. Umesh Yadav and Ashok Dinda have been inconsistent and though they have wickets to show, their economy rates are nothing to talk about.
The Lankan have played just two matches so far and while they were clinical against Zimbabwe, they just couldn't accelerate at the right time against India.
But the team which comprises some new faces and some comeback men can still prove to be a quite a handful for India.
India Virat Kohli averages over 50 in his brief international ODI career. He has been consistent in the opportunities given to him and has looked pretty solid in this tourney. Even in the game against Sri Lanka where Rohit ended up with a ton, it was Virat who played the more solid knock and laid the foundation.
Squad from Suresh Raina (capt), Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Amit Mishra, Naman Ojha, Pragyan Ojha, Pankaj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav.
Sri Lanka Angelo Mathews has impressed with how quickly he has matured in the international circuit. He has been quick to gauge a situation and tailor his batting to the requirements of the match situation. And he has always come across as an intelligent bowler.
Squad from Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedera, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thilan Thushara, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Silva, Thissira Perera.
Stats and trivia
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Start time 09:00 local (07:00 GMT)