India to take on New Zealand today

      GBuzzer India to take on New Zealand today  

CHENNAI: India must raise their World Cup intensity, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Tuesday, with star batsman Sachin Tendulkar poised to play a crucial role.

India, strong favourites to win the showpiece tournament, stuttered in their warm-up game against defending champions Australia in Bangalore on Sunday before pulling off an unlikely 38-run win.

The Indians take on New Zealand in their second and final practice match on Wednesday in Chennai ahead of their tournament opener against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Saturday.

Tendulkar missed the win over Australia, a legacy of the hamstring injury that forced him to cut short his participation in the one-day series in South Africa last month.

But he came through a long net session on Tuesday and is poised to open the batting against the Black Caps in what will be only his third one-dayer since his historic double-century against South Africa in Gwalior a year ago.

“Of course we did not have a very good game against Australia,” Dhoni said.

“We needed a partnership but that did not happen and we could not score big.

“The lower order helped and added some 45-odd runs. But at 214 we did not have a par score on the board. We want to score more runs in the warm-up and try various bowling options.

“We need to pick up intensity as we progress into the World Cup.”

Dhoni said the performance of spinners in the game against Australia had opened up his options.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, a surprise inclusion in India’s squad, picked up 4-31 in nine overs and off-break bowler Harbhajan Singh took 3-15 from five.

“We have a very good side,” said Dhoni. “That is what I have said always. I don’t believe in comparisons. We have a mix of players who are very good.

“But obviously what we have on paper is not important, it is what we do on the field which matters. We need to see what the conditions are and pick our best 11 accordingly.”

Dhoni said bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan would be rested for Wednesday’s warm-up to allow him to be fresh for the tournament opener. The left-arm paceman had missed out on the Australia game as well.

“He has a very mild groin strain. It is nothing to worry about. It is just that we want to give him rest. He will definitely play against Bangladesh.”

The Indian skipper, leading the side for the first time in a World Cup, also said his team will treat New Zealand with respect despite their recent poor form in one-dayers in the sub-continent.

“They don’t depend on any one particular player. They have some very talented players. When we talk about New Zealand we talk about their contributive effort rather than singling out players.”

India, winners in 1983, are placed in Group B with England, South Africa, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, the West Indies and Ireland. (AFP)

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