Indian team on guard against tricky Ireland

Bangalore: Title contenders India will have to be on their guard against giant-killers Ireland, on a high after shocking England, when the two sides face off in an interesting group B match of the cricket World Cup here on Sunday.

The match has grown in profile and has gained proportion after Ireland sprang the tournament`s biggest surprise by shocking their more fancied neighbours and three-time Cup finalists England.

Going by pedigree, however, there is definitely no comparison between the two teams and, irrespective of all the hype over Ireland`s stunning win that left Andrew Strauss and his men and India with bowling concerns, the hosts will start the match as firm favourites.

Until Wednesday, the day the Irish made the world sit up and take notice of their cricketing credentials, none would have given the upcoming match any importance except for the fact that India is involved.

The Indian team management, though, has been forced to think and pay attention to the associate nation following its improbable victory at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, also the venue for tomorrow`s match.

The focus is also on the wicket, which produced 300-plus totals in all the matches it has hosted so far in the quadrennial extravaganza.

That England tied the match against India last Sunday chasing an imposing target just a few days before Kevin O`Brien`s stunning innings lifted Ireland to a historic win chasing almost 330 runs, are indications enough that the strip here is full of runs.

The word is that tomorrow`s match will be played on the surface which hosted India`s warm-up game against Australia and the England game. But whether it is played on the centre strip, which hosted India`s game, or the one that O`Brien made his own, is not, by any means, expected to change the tide in bowlers` favour.

Over the last fortnight, massive totals, huge sixes and countless boundaries have been the norm at this venue, and things are expected to remain the same.

Both the pitches look like feather-beds, though sources within the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) indicated that there might be some turn on offer tomorrow.

It was learnt that fearing a backlash, curator Narayan Raju consistently rolled and watered down the track to nullify the turn that had the Australians in a tizzy during their warm-up game against the hosts.