The Telegraph
Thursday , February 7 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Indians to play for pride

Cuttack: After having failed to make it to the Super Six, India would seek to restore some pride when they take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their classification match here on Thursday.

The humiliating 138-run defeat against Sri Lanka on Tuesday also meant that India will now have to go through the qualifiers to feature in the next edition of the World Cup.

The collective failure of the top-order batters in their last two matches even in home conditions has hurt the team badly and India will need to regroup quickly to prevent an equally demoralising performane against the Pakistanis.

The pressure will be on the Indians who have been hit hard by a sudden slump in form of their key batsmen after a comfortable 105-run win against the West Indies in the tournament opener. The inexperienced bowling attack has only compounded the misery for the hosts.

Sri Lanka’s batting fired in unison as they posted a competitive 282 for five in a must-win game for both sides. India were on the backfoot from the very beginning of the run chase and they were bundled out for a paltry 144 in 42.2 overs.

Incidentally, this was India’s first defeat to Sri Lanka in 18 matches, having won their previous 16 encounters with one ending in no result.

Both India and Pakistan have several issues to address leading up to Thursday’s game at the Barabati Stadium. While India have struggled with the indifferent form of their bowlers, Pakistan have a lot to answer in their batting department.

The last two games against England and Sri Lanka saw Indian bowlers giving away close to 550 runs with the visitors finding it easy against the pace and spin trio of Jhulan Goswami, Niranjana Nagarajan and Ekta Bisht.

In the batting department, barring Harmanpreet Kaur, Karu Jain and Thirush Kamini, no other batswomen could be able to convert the starts into a good score.

India would hope that the openers provide them a good platform after they missed out against England and Sri Lanka. Their middle-order would have to pitch in to help set a competitive total to defend against Pakistan on a placid Barabati track.

India would be in no mood to take their neighbours lightly and would like to put their best foot forward in the day game on Thursday. The bowlers also need to perform better during the Powerplay overs as most of the runs have been leaked during that period.

On the other hand, Pakistan have more reasons to worry than the Indians as neither their batting nor bowling has clicked. They were annihilated by the South Africans in their last group league fixture by 126 runs to send them crashing out of the event on Tuesday.

They managed meagre scores of 84, 104 and 81 in the encounters against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, respectively, and the bowlers too failed to make an impression.

Bismah Maroof is the only batswoman in the Pakistan team to have offered some resistance to the rival bowlers. Captain Sana Mir’s failure at the top-order has hit them badly and they need their captain to lead from the front.

The Indian players arrived in Bhubaneswar Wednesday. After the ceremonial welcome at the airport before being escorted to the hotel.

The players will leave for Cuttack on Thursday.

The Barabati Stadium will host three Super Six league matches involving South Africa, West Indies, England and Sri Lanka.

As per the schedule, West Indies will meet South Africa on February 8 followed by England vs South Africa match on February 10. The South Africans will also meet Sri Lanka at the Barabati on February 13.

Barabati Stadium will also hold play-off match for the fifth position.