There can't be a worse timing for India than this to play Pakistan. Another loss in the Super Eights will send them packing, and one has to admit they don’t look in order right now ahead of the tie at the Premadasa in Colombo on Sunday. The humiliating loss against Australia on Saturday has exposed the loopholes in the team. MS Dhoni went in with five specialist bowlers but the decision backfired with India scoring only 140 and then taking only one wicket as Australia romped home in the 15th over.
MS Dhoni is a stubborn man and he doesn’t like being questioned but after what all happened against the Kangaroos, there are big chances that India will revert to their time-honoured policy of seven batsmen and four bowlers. And that means Virender Sehwag will return to the team after warming the bench for two matches. He should, why not? He is one of the most devastating batsmen in this format, and even though he has been off-colour of late he can return to form any time. Dhoni has to bring Sehwag back for the sake of the team.
Sehwag does not fear any bowler and India need him for the high-octane match. Remember, it was Sehwag who derailed Umar Gul in the 50-overs World Cup semifinal last year by smashing the Pakistani bowler for five fours in one over to set it up for India. Until then, Gul was literally unplayable.
India have to sort out their combination-related woes before it's too late. A defeat on Sunday will show them the door and take Pakistan into the semis.
India never needed the Delhi player like this bad before. Piyush Chawla should make way for Sehwag. He was awful against Australia and so was Harbhajan Singh and he should be replaced by either Ashok Dinda or Lakshmipathy Balaji. Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh are good enough spinning options and don’t forget Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina who can send down a few useful overs – if need be.
Irfan Pathan should also be brought down the batting order. He might have a big reputation as a big-hitter but his batting against fast-bowling is questionable. In case of a Sehwag return, the allrounder will sure return to his usual No.7. Many quarters have suggested Yuvraj Singh can also be made to sit out but again he is also a match winner and you don’t drop match-winners, do you?
As far as Pakistan are concerned, they are on cloud nine following their unexpected win over South Africa Saturday. It was a win against all odds considering they were 76 for 7 at one time in their pursuit of 134. Pakistan's batting and bowling, both seems in order. Mohd Hafeez, Imran Nazir, the Akmal brothers can make any bowling side lose sleep. Their bowling is no less, Umar Gul, Shahid Afidi, and Saeed Ajmal are damn good bowlers. There have been calls for Abdul Razzaq's inclusion but it's highly unlikely that Pakistan would want to change their winning set.
India and Pakistan have played two T20Is so far, both in the 2007 World Cup. The group match was tied while the final was won by Dhoni’s men. Can Team India repeat that performance on Sunday, that’s the question. They surely can but that won’t be easy. Dhoni should be a worried man.
India: 1. Virender Sehwag 2. Gautam Gambhir, 3. Virat Kohli, 4. Rohit Sharma, 5. Yuvraj Singh, 6. Suresh Raina, 7. MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), 8. Irfan Pathan 9. Zaheer Khan, 10. Ravichandran Ashwin 11. Lakshmipathy Balaji/Ashok Dinda
Pakistan: 1. Mohd Hafeez (captain), 2. Imran Nazir, 3. Nasir Jamshed, 4. Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), 5. Umar Akmal, 6. Shoaib Malik 7. Shahid Afridi, 8. Umar Gul 9. Yasir Arafat 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Raza Hasan