A lot has been written on team composition since the Bermuda game. Key questions being –
- Should Pathan/Sreesanth come in for Agarkar?
- Should Karthik replace Uthappa?
- Should India play two spinners?
I think the answer lies in how Dravid and Chappell read Uthappa. Not only his form at nets but also gauge if he is mentally ready to take up the challenge.
Karthik has proven in the past that he is a gutsy customer who can absorb pressure and an excellent fielder. That can work in his favour. However he is not a natural opener and that is his disadvantage. I will still go with Uthappa since a good start will settle the team’s nerves during this high pressure game.
Pathan has’nt played recently and lack of match practise will work against him even though the Indian batting will be considerably strengthened. Dravid is likely to go with Agarkar again.
I will be really surprised if Kumble plays and even more surprised if two spinners play. If the pitch is low and slow like the last game, it might be a good idea to play two spinners but it is very unlikely.
Reading the pitch correctly is vital in this game and although India has won most of their games chasing against Sri Lanka lately, they have done so without Murali in the ranks. Batting second on a low slow turner against Murali is tough and India may do well setting a target rather than chasing.
And finally, the toss is extremely important – mainly because the team winning the toss can exercise their first choice – Setting targets or chasing. Since India’s batting is stronger than bowling, the obvious choice looks like they should chase targets. But, the pressure could get to the best of players. Remember Kolkata 1996 semi finals?
I feel India should bat first put a huge total and try their hardest to defend.