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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Anil Kumble: Nehra must play; it's his home ground!

Anil Kumble: Nehra must play; it's his home ground!

Last updated on: March 09, 2011 08:22 IST

India, says ANIL KUMBLE, urgently need to inject life into their World Cup campaign; their approach so far, has been far too desultory.

While it was good to see India maintain a no-loss record, watching them huff and puff their way to a win over the Irish did not make happy viewing. I have said this before but I cannot say it enough: India urgently need to inject life into their World Cup campaign, their approach so far, has been far too desultory.

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It's not that they haven't been challenged, but there is a big difference between scraping through or getting through "comfortably in the end" and putting your stamp of authority on a game. India so far, haven't done that, except for an hour here and there, through some individual batting efforts.

If they do not use the game against the Netherlands at the Kotla today to score important psychological points, then India would have let go of a vital opportunity to proclaim to other top teams that if they want to win the World Cup, they need to beat India to get a hand on it.

Ashish NehraCricket has always been about using street smarts and putting the opposition under pressure, on the field and off it. You need the other team to be feeling the heat when they walk on to face you and that only comes from their being wary straight off of your dominance on the field of play.

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In India's case, there is also the solid advantage of a raucous home crowd wherever they play --- they need to use it well, not like against the Irish, when the crowd was frequently silenced with the equally frequent ebb and flow of India's chase.

Today's game has got to see Ashish Nehra in play. This is his home ground, he knows it better than any other India bowler and, in any case, how long can he be benched?

Niggles are a part and parcel of the modern game. But, as England have shown with Pietersen (and perhaps Broad), in a competition as fierce and important as the World Cup, however big the player, and however important you think he might be to your strategy, you need him to be able to be fit to take the field. Otherwise, he needs to step aside. This is the World Cup.

Nehra is fit and India need to find the correct balance, this is the perfect game to do so. They also need to bench Piyush Chawla. Chawla had another poor game against Ireland, he bowled far too short and the Irish batsmen took full advantage. If India play a second fulltime spinner (which they might not need to seeing the form Yuvraj is in with the ball) then it has to be Ashwin.

The Kotla will be packed to he rafters today and the Delhi crowd will expect their Delhi boys --- Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, and Nehra, if he plays --- to make this a game that will rekindle the fire in India's campaign. I'm waiting for that too.

- HAWKEYE COMMUNICATIONS / CHIVACH SPORTS

Anil Kumble