Today at the Champions Trophy: West Indies must capitalise on India’s bowling weakness


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The Independent Online

Both India and the West Indies will be looking to virtually confirm their semi-final spot on Tuesday at The Oval after wins in their opening games, but there is an element of unpredictability to this match. West Indies overcame Pakistan by two wickets in a low-scoring encounter on Friday and can stifle anyone on their day.

India were brutal with the bat in their victory over a depleted South Africa side, hitting 331, a score the West Indies have reached just once since May 2006.

Respective captains M S Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo are team-mates for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, as are Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

India look favourites on paper and have their batting strength to thank for that. The openers are decided, with Rohit Sharma replacing Murali Vijay to partner Indian cricket’s new poster boy Shikhar Dhawan. The middle order is effective and the tail-enders are solid and reliable.

But their bowling woes did continue against South Africa, giving room for their middle order to come close to the mammoth target. The onus is on West Indies to prove they can feast on this weakness by setting a marker on the big stage.

Two to watch

Shikhar Dhawan, India

At 27, the Delhi-based left-hander has had to wait for his chance, but his maiden ODI ton against South Africa on Thursday was a pleasure to watch. He has a swagger, and having scored 187 in his one and only Test innings against Australia in March, is capable of producing anything.

Marlon Samuels, West Indies

Samuels remains unconvincing in the one-day game, and particularly in the Champions Trophy, where he has tabled just 71 in eight innings. But this is the 32-year-old’s chance to shine, and he knows it. Samuels has already said he is convinced West Indies can rattle India in English conditions.