India to take on Kenya

India take on Kenya in their first match of the ICC Champions Trophy today.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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India take on Kenya in their first match of the ICC Champions Trophy today. While not a single player in this squad is playing in England for the first time, Captain Saurav Ganguly said that conditions there still takes some getting used to. However, on the other hand Kenya who reached the semi finals of the 2003 world cup have not played a game since April 2003. But Kenyan captain Steve Tikolo says he fancies his team's chances against the Indians. Easy fodder Kenya are widely expected to be easy fodder for heavyweights India but a win is not the only thing which the joint holders would be seeking in their inaugural match of the Champions Trophy on Saturday. India want their batting engine to rev up and pick momentum which would serve them well in the second half of the tournament, the week where many reputations would bite the dust in the sudden death format. India are in the midst of a collective batting crisis and the only silver lining in the fortnight or so of stay in England has been half centuries by Sourav Ganguly, Mohammad Kaif and Rahul Dravid. Turning the corner Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and young gun Yuvraj Singh have invited some harsh reactions from even their fans and this is one game where they could turn the corner. After the desperate experiment in the final game of the NatWest Challenge, Sehwag is likely to be restored to the top and Laxman shifted to number three as India try to rediscover their old balance. India are also likely to provide young Dinesh Kaarthik with his second game behind the wicket though it is his performance in front of it which would decide his immediate future in the team. Sachin's absence Kaarthik, in all likelihood, would be preferred ahead of Rohan Gavaskar and he must fulfill the role of a seventh batsman in the line-up because of Sachin Tendulkar's injury-induced absence. India would also like their spin twin to rediscover the art of bowling in tandem and the balance currently is in favour of two medium-pacers and two spinners in the attack. Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble are likely to take up the middle overs and hopefully, when Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra have made early inroads. Odumbe affair Kenya have lately been inviting the wrong kind of attention because of the Maurice Odumbe affair and a look at their line-up shows that they are still relying too much on Hitesh Modi and Ravindu Shah. Still, they carry the tag of World Cup semi-finalists and their disciplined bowlers and fielders could still catch a careless international team off guard. India know it all too well as two of Kenya's wins from one-day internationals have come at their expense, once at Gwalior in 1999 and then in Port Elizabeth during their South African tour of 2001-2002. Weather forecast Summer in this country is ready to take its leave and the cold evenings and the resultant early morning dew implies most of the teams would be hoping to win the toss and insert the opposition in to bat. The weather forecast is unlikely to cheer up the two teams as rain is forecast on the day of the match. But thankfully there is a reserve day for each of the matches. The game could be watched by Australia from the sidelines as they are already in the city ahead of their clash against the United States in Rose Bowl on Monday. (With PTI inputs)