Tuesday\'s match at The Oval contains a number of head-to-heads that could prove pivotal; Cricketnext takes a look at the five big ones.
Tuesday's ICC Champions Trophy match at The Oval contains a number of head-to-heads that could prove pivotal; here, Cricketnext takes a look at the five big ones.
Chris Gayle v Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The last time Bhuvneshwar bowled to Gayle marked one of the tightest spells in Twenty20 cricket. Opening the bowling for Pune Warriors in IPL 6, he conceded just eight runs in his first three overs and finished his quota with figures of 0 for 23 in his four even as Gayle clobbered 175* off 66 balls. Where the next five bowlers had economy rates of 16.50, 12, 18.66, 22.50 and 29, Bhuvneshwar's 5.75 was a remarkable effort. If the Uttar Pradesh seamer can hold his own and keep Gayle quite at The Oval, or even better dismiss the marauding Jamaican cheaply, it would give India plenty of relief.
Kemar Roach v Shikhar Dhawan
In the tournament opener at Cardiff, South Africa's four-pronged pace attack was taken apart by Dhawan, playing his first ODI for nearly two years. The left-hand opener - who had stormed to 185 on Test debut and then had a strong IPL 6 - came into the match with poor scores in India's two warm-ups only to ease to a maiden ODI hundred - a stroke-filled 114 off 94 balls. What was most impressive was how Dhawan, playing tall and with superb hand-eye coordination, tucked into South Africa's quicks. Granted, they gave him a steady feed of short-pitched bowling but his confidence and clarity of play was startling.
West Indies would have taken notice of Dhawan's batting. As their captain Dwayne Bravo said, the team has the bowlers to silence the Indian batsmen. Up front, how Roach bowls to Dhawan will be crucial. Roach is coming off a three-wicket haul in the win over Pakistan, in which he rocked the top order in his first spell. His pace, especially, could test Dhawan after Morne Morkel had an off day and the lack of pace from Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Ryan McLaren and Rory Kleinveldt proved cannon fodder at Cardiff.
Sunil Narine v Virat Kohli
India's No. 3 is the second-most important batsman in the side after skipper MS Dhoni. Narine, after Roach, is the second-biggest threat for India. Kohli is coming off a strong IPL 6 season. So is Narine. Kohli made 31 in his last ODI. Narine took 3 for 34 in his last. Kohli's record in ODIs in England (average 37.50) is something he wants to improve. Narine's bowling average in England (33.75) also needs trimming. Will Narine spoil the occasion of Kohli's 100th ODI appearance? Don't take your eyes off this contest.
MS Dhoni v Dwayne Bravo
The two have played together for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL for a few seasons, and most recently Bravo was Dhoni's go-to man for wickets in the last ten overs of a match. Now, the two will square off in quite different circumstances, especially Bravo who is now captaining West Indies. Dhoni would have a really good sense of how Bravo bowls, having just spent six weeks with him in India. Ditto for Bravo, who has a bigger role with the ball in ODI cricket. Will the inside tricks and knowledge come forth?
Kieron Pollard v Ravindra Jadeja
Each plays as an allrounder, looking to hit quick runs from the lower middle order and stem the flow of runs during the middle passages. For West Indies, the big-hitting Pollard is more of an asset as a batsman while Jadeja's strongest suite is his tidy left-arm spin. Thus, each of them could well find himself playing against the other. Both are excellent fielders too, with Jadeja adding steel to India's fielding inside the circle and Pollard's ability and reach in the deep giving West Indies a superb partnership-breaking option.