x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dhoni to bolster batting in wake of Ireland's O'Brien threat

The captain says he was never to take the dangerous minnows lightly in any case and will back up his team's strength, their batting, tomorrow.

The Indian captain will opt for seven batsmen today. Rajnish Kakade / AP Photo
The Indian captain will opt for seven batsmen today. Rajnish Kakade / AP Photo
MS Dhoni, who has played some explosive innings in his time, was full of admiration for Kevin O'Brien's match-winning 113 against England on Wednesday, and insisted that India would approach Sunday's World Cup game against Ireland as seriously as they would a match against one of the favoured sides.
"The Bangladesh defeat in 2007 still haunts us," he said yesterday. "So we are not taking any opponent lightly."
India's status as tournament favourites was hit last Sunday when they failed to defend a huge total of 338 against England. Only a wonderful old-ball spell from Zaheer Khan and an English collapse gave them a share of the spoils.
Dhoni and the team management have resisted the urge to tinker with the side. Ashish Nehra is fit again, but Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel are once again likely to be the only pace bowlers selected in the side.
Piyush Chawla was expensive against England but should retain his place on a surface that is expected to be little different from those that produced two run-fests over the past week.
"If the side is weak against spin, it's best to have a leg spinner, and Piyush gives us a lot of variation, especially with the wrong-un, so it's a horses-for-courses approach," said Dhoni, when asked about the possibility of selecting R Ashwin, the off-spinner who bowls his own version of the carrom ball.
The task for Ireland is to rise again after the result against England that gave them pride of place on sports bulletins in the cricket world. "We put in a good performance on Wednesday and created a wee bit of history there," said William Porterfield, the captain. "Now we've got to start all over again."
Against Bangladesh in their opening game, the Irish batsmen failed after the bowlers had done a sterling job. The bowlers were again to the fore in the second half of the England innings before O'Brien and other batsmen stole the show. Against India, everyone will have to be at the top of their game.
If Andre Botha is fit after a groin problem, he will replace Gary Wilson, and Porterfield issure that 39,000 shouting support for the home side would not faze his men.
"If you can't go out there and get up for a game in front of 40,000 people, then I think there's something wrong with you," he said.