India's 2003 World Cup coach Wright urges Dhoni & Co to be wary of their next opponents — Ireland (today) and Zimbabwe (Saturday)
Hamilton: The Indian team is on a roll in this World Cup having comfortably beaten the tough teams in the initial segment of the league stages.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co now have two Group stage matches left – against Ireland today and Zimbabwe on March 14 – both of which the defending champions are expected to win easily given the manner in which they thumped Pakistan (by 76 runs at the Adelaide Oval) and hammered South Africa (by 130 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground).
However, this easy part could turn out to be tricky, warned former India coach and New Zealander John Wright, who in his younger days represented Northern Districts here at Seddon Park, the venue for today's India vs Ireland Group B World Cup encounter.
"The Indian team must look to keep that winning momentum going. You must respect every opposition in a World Cup and prepare hard for every game even against teams that everyone expects you to beat easily. These 'easy' games often end up causing a slip-up," Wright told mid-day yesterday.
Ireland's Andrew Balbirnie is run out by Brendan Taylor of Zimbabwe during their World Cup clash at Bellerive Oval, Hobart last week. Pic/Getty Images
This Indian team's performance path is similar to the one Sourav Ganguly's side had undertaken during Wright's tenure as coach. They began the run up to their 2003 World Cup campaign in South Africa by losing a seven-match ODI series in New Zealand (2-5) before going on to reach the final of the quadrennial event in Johannesburg.
India won eight games in a row during the 2003 World Cup in Southern Africa before falling to Australia in the final on March 23, 2003. Here too, the Men in Blue had a disastrous Test tour Down Under followed by a pathetic tri-series before going on to win all four of their World Cup matches so far. Wright said his team then went back to the drawing board before each match and that's what is needed here too.
Attention to detail
"You've got to start every match from the first ball all over again. You have to go back and strategise after every match. You have to keep up all the hard work that has been put in. As a team, you must continue to keep doing what you're doing well and at the same time also try and work on the areas of the game that might need that little bit of improvement.
The bottom line is to ensure you don't lose that momentum. Play one game at a time. That's what we did in 2003," added Wright (60). In NZ conditions, Dhoni could bring in Stuart Binny, felt Wright. "You have to give match play to the players that you may need later in the tournament without upsetting the core of the team.
Someone like Binny, will get more swing here than he will get in Australia, so he could be brought in for the game at Seddon Park," said Wright. According to the Kiwi, the Indian batsmen will have to employ a wait and watch approach here too as has been their ploy this far in the tournament.
"It's a small ground and the wickets have improved greatly now. As long as batsmen get through that initial phase of the bowling, batting after that should be fine," Wright concluded.
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