The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 19 , 2014
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Dhoni is fit, will play vs England today

Calcutta: After failing in the first warm-up match, Wednesday will provide India with a final chance to get their act right before the World T20 proper begins. The game is against England, but for India, it will actually be a battle against their own shadows as they try to fight off their off-form.

Focus will not only be on Team India as a whole, but also on the individuals. Leading the list is none other than captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Dhoni had played in the practice tie against Sri Lanka, on Monday, but didn’t bat as India lost by five runs. After the match, he revealed that he had a “niggle” in his right hand and so he opted to not risk it.

“I have a niggle in my right hand that developed a couple of days ago… There’s no real point risking it,” he had said.

But as of Tuesday evening, the Indian camp has nothing to worry about, as the captain is fit to play Wednesday’s game. According to a team source, Dhoni is “fine” and will be leading the team against England.

While Dhoni targets to get some batting practice before India open their World T20 campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan, on Friday, he would also hope that his men, both the batsmen and the bowlers, get some rhythm going for them.

Against the Lankans, very few Indians impressed.

In the batting department, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh were the only ones who harvested some runs. While Raina hit a 31-ball 41, Yuvraj looked decent for his 28-ball 33.

The openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, once again faltered. Irrespective of the format, the openers play a big role in the success of the team.

It has been quite some time since the Shikhar-Rohit combination launched India’s batting on a confident note.

Similarly, the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja, too would want to score some runs. Virat Kohli didn’t have a great game against Sri Lanka, but he would get the benefit of doubt because of the startling form he has been in for the last one year or so.

It is also to be noted that most of the Indians fell to pace in the last match as Lasith Malinga took four wickets. Pakistan, too, have good fast-bowlers and the Indians would certainly not want pace to be their weakness.

Among the bowlers, Ravichandran Ashwin was the most impressive as he took three wickets conceding just 22 runs in his four overs. Much is expected from leggie Amit Mishra, but he didn’t look much in control versus the Lankans. Will he do better against England?

The lead pacers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, will like to shake off the rustiness of a tiring season with good performances.

England, meanwhile, are a team fighting a host of problems. From controversies to injury setbacks, the England camp is a worried lot.

To make matters worse, they were thrashed by the West Indies in their practice game on Tuesday.

England are also fighting jetlag, having taken a long flight from Barbados to Dhaka.

Captain Stuart Broad is suffering from a dodgy knee while the team is not exactly rich in overall international experience. So the likes of Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan will have to take maximum responsibility.

England do have a few explosive players like Alex Hales, who briefly held the No. 1 rank in the ICC rankings for the T20 batsmen, before Brendon McCullum displaced him. For the Indians, the situation is a little tricky. If they beat England, critics may come up with the logic that it carries little significance since England are a feeble force at the moment.

If they lose the match, India will obviously be treated to the harshest criticism for losing against a weak side.

But for their own sake, India would definitely want to win on Wednesday. They may win back their confidence that way.

Match starts: 7pm (IST)