WCup: India aim for QF berth, Dutch target upset

New Delhi: Title aspirants India are unlikely to face much resistance as they go into their World Cup Group B encounter against minnows The Netherlands here tomorrow but there are worries over the form and potency of their bowling attack.

The Indians are on top in the group with five points and a win will assure them of a berth in the quarterfinals of the mega event being held in the sub-continent after a gap of 15 years.

A tied game against England and a hard-fought five-wicket victory over giant-killers Ireland has put India`s rather lackluster bowling attack under the scanner and the Indian think-tank has to plug the loopholes before it is too late.

Although the hosts should not find it difficult to get past Netherlands on a slow and low Ferozeshah Kotla track, the team will have to work on the bowling composition and the fielding to be able to make an impact against the stronger sides.

Clearly, the four-bowler strategy has its limitations on the sub-continental track and relying on part-timers to fill in ten overs may turn out to be costly at some stage, particularly if one of the specialist bowlers has an off day.

At the same time, the Indians have always preferred to go in with seven batsmen and may not be inclined to tinker with the line-up just to accommodate an extra bowler.

The form of leg spinner Piyush Chawla, a surprise inclusion in India`s World Cup squad, has been highly disappointing and the team management may toy with the idea of including off-spinner R Ashwin in his place.

Ashwin`s inclusion will no doubt strengthen the batting line-up as he is handy down the order but the bowling will lack the variety with two off spinners in the ranks.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has acknowledged the fact that the bowling and fielding have not been top grade so far and wants his teammates to raise their game.

"We are showing signs of improvement in bowling. Our fielding will be the same, our exceptional fielders can get better but our slow fielders will remain the same. It`s important to peak at right time as it is long tournament," Dhoni said

Dhoni sought to see the positives of their hard-fought win over Ireland in their last league match on Sunday and said his batsmen were made to play under pressure.

"It was needed (tough test). Scoreboard read it was 208 but it was close to 240. Their bowlers were well supported by their fielders. Everyone got a chance to bat, everyone was under pressure, and when you are chasing against Ireland it adds to pressure. It was very good exposure for the batsmen," Dhoni said.