India take on West Indies with an eye on semifinal berth
London: With eyes firmly set on a semifinal berth, a confident India will seek to keep the momentum going when they take on an unpredictable West Indies in a crucial Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy at the Oval here tomorrow.
Both the teams have won their opening group matches in contrasting fashion, and know very well that a win here will almost guarantee a spot in the last four stage of the tournament, being held for the last time.
While reigning world champions India defeated injury-hit South Africa by 26 runs in Cardiff after posting a commanding 331 for 7, the West Indies eked out a close two-wicket win over Pakistan in a low-scoring game on Friday.
But come tomorrow, the clash will be a battle between many players who have solid 'knowledge' of each other.
Having just played the Indian Premier League, India and the West Indies are studded with key players who are aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Interestingly, rival captains Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo are Chennai Super Kings teammates while Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle turned out for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
But this will be a clash where national prestige will be at stake and no quarter will be given nor asked for.
In-form West Indian batsman Marlon Samuels has already sounded the warning bells, saying the Caribbeans will look the Indians in the eye and have the arsenal to rattle them in English conditions.
From an overall team perspective and build-up, India look stronger on paper. Their batting looks in awesome form with three back-to-back 300-plus scores in conditions where the ball has done a bit early in the innings.
With a slight change in the batting order, Murali Vijay was dropped to accommodate Rohit Sharma as an opener in the first match against the Proteas, and the runs came in torrents after an initial period of graft. The lessons learnt from the warm-up games were clear.