Perth, Feb 27:
The below-par performance in the tri-series involving Australia and England had snatched the favourites tag away from India going in to the World Cup.
However, back-to-back wins against two top sides have put the defending champions right at the top of Pool B and back in contention. Having comprehensively defeated arch-rivals Pakistan and title contenders South Africa, India will now take on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the WACA here Saturday in their third encounter of the quadrennial event.
It will be unwise to take the UAE lightly as vice-captain Virat Kohli said, following the South Africa match, that at end of the day it will be 11 men against 11 men with the same weapons — bat and ball.
India should come down hard at the non-Test playing side to further signal their intent in the World Cup. Another win will easily put them well on course for the quarter-finals.
India’s batting looks good with Kohli and opener Shikhar Dhawan scoring centuries in the first two games while middle-order batsmen Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane have also been amongst runs.
The one small concern for captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be their finish. Though India batted brilliantly against both Pakistan and the Proteas, they failed to capitalise in the death overs, losing wickets and not scoring as many runs as expected after formidable starts.
Both spinners and pacers have come good in the two matches, with pacer Mohammed Shami picking up a four-wicket haul against Pakistan. However, Shami has been ruled out of the match with a knee problem.
The likely replacement will be either medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar or all-rounder Stuart Binny. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel might get a chance too.
On the other hand, the UAE, playing their second World Cup, have lost both their matches against Zimbabwe and Ireland. Though their bowling is well below par the international standards and it will be difficult to contain India, their batting has been quite impressive, particularly Shaiman Anwar.
The Sialkot-born Anwar scored a solid 67 and a scintillating 106 against Zimbabwe and Ireland, respectively, to help his team put up strong totals on the board. However, a weak bowling line-up and even weaker fielding led the expat-filled UAE team to lose the games.
UAE, a team full of people born in the Indian subcontinent, will be looking to gain experience and will have nothing to lose against the defending champions, while India may try a few other combinations before they take on stronger teams. (IANS)