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10th-Mar-2015

Indian juggernaut expected to roll over Ireland

By Agency

Defying all odds, trash talks and pre-tournament predictions, defending champions India are cruising in their bid to retain the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Very few would have predicted such a smooth sail for India, and rightly so, given their lead-up to the World Cup.
Not much long ago, the Test series Down Under and the tri-series that followed, also featuring England, ended up as a nightmare for the team. In a period spanning little over two months, India lost the four-match Test series 0-2 to Australia, then crashed out of the tri-series without winning a single match.
But just as they say, World Cup is a different ball game altogether, India's turnaround has been a story of rags to riches. The Indian juggernaut has been in top of its elements right since the beginning of the tournament, with four wins out of four, and Ireland should not expect an easy ride from India in their penultimate Pool B clash on Tuesday, even though the world champions have already qualified for the quarter-finals.
India have won all four matches so far to comfortably reach the knock-outs. Set aside the scare against West Indies, they barely had to switch to Plan B. Nobody would expect them to drop guard against Ireland as a win at Seddon Park in Hamilton will be their record ninth on the trot in World Cups - four in previous edition and five in the ongoing event. India will be looking to maintain their supremacy over Ireland, who are seeking fourth spot in Pool B to make the quarter-final grade.
The last time India met Ireland was in Bangalore during the last edition of the World Cup, where the hosts comfortably beat their opponents by five wickets as Yuvraj Singh emerged as the star performer with a 'five-for' and a half-century.
This year's World Cup has been all about the resurgence of India's bowling unit, which was considered a weakness before the tournament. The bowlers have taken 37 wickets amongst themselves in the four matches. Such has been the impact created by the Indian bowlers that none of the opposition team's batsmen have been able to post a total of 250 in the competition.
While Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami, with nine wickets apiece, have been the two standout performers, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja - with six scalps apiece - have done their job with equal efficiency.
However, skipper Dhoni admitted the shorter boundaries in New Zealand, where they play their first match after four in Australia, is a concern for the bowlers. At Seddon Park, the side boundaries are barely 60 metres. Nonetheless it is something that the Indian batsmen would be looking forward to. With big hitters like skipper Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina in the team, another run fest is on the cards.
"Yes, the short boundaries will be a bit of a concern, but overall, again, it will be good exposure for the bowlers, the reason being we are nicely positioned in the table right now, but we would still like to give our best," said Dhoni.
The clash gives an opportunity to India to try their bench strength before the quarter-finals by resting one of their frontline fast bowlers.