India on the verge of last eight, Kamran faces axe

India virtually wrapped a World Cup quarter-final place on Wednesday as calamity keeper Kamran Akmal faced being deposed by his own brother as Pakistan’s top gloveman.

Yuvraj Singh scored a match-winning 51 not out, his third successive half century, as India pulled off a five-wicket win against The Netherlands after making heavy weather of chasing a 190 target at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

India were reeling at 99-4 after a three-wicket burst by left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar but scraped through with 81 balls remaining.

The Indians are now on top of Group B with seven points following three wins and a tie after a match which saw Sachin Tendulkar become the first player to make 2 000 World Cup runs.

“I don’t mind chasing or batting first as long we are winning,” said India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“We achieved quite a few objectives but there are still some areas we need to improve like the powerplay overs.”

Dutch captain Peter Borren sensed a shock when India were 99-4.

“At 99-4, you never know, sneak a couple of wickets. But I am proud of my boys. We have two games coming up [against Ireland and Bangladesh] which are big games for us. Tonight will give us confidence.”

Butter fingers
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi admitted that calamity-hit wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal could be replaced behind the stumps by younger brother Umar for the rest of the tournament.

Kamran has come under fire from fans, media and a host of former players for his sloppy glove work which allowed Ross Taylor to escape on nought and eight to smash a breathtaking 131 in New Zealand’s 110-run win on Tuesday.

“Keeping with Umar is very much an option and we might try it in the next game [against Zimbabwe on Monday],” Afridi told GEO TV.

Coach Waqar Younis also hinted that Kamran is on borrowed time, but that a decision on his future could be delayed until after the World Cup.

“I think maybe after the World Cup we can think about it but now we are in the middle of the tournament and I don’t think we can make such a change and panic.”

Pakistan fans vented their frustration against Kamran and demanded he be dropped.

One fan wrote on Twitter: “What do Kamran and Michael Jackson have in common? They both wore gloves for no reason.”

Injury scares
New Zealand’s win put them top of Group A, but it came at a cost, with captain Daniel Vettori injuring his right knee while attempting a catch and forced to leave the field.

“We’ll see how Danny is over the next few days,” said Taylor, the vice-captain.

“Hopefully it’s just a bit of jarring. He’s key to our team and we need him for the rest of the tournament.”

South Africa also suffered a scare when in-form leg-spinner Imran Tahir fractured his left thumb.

“Imran injured himself during the game against England while attempting the caught-and-bowled which dismissed Jonathan Trott,” said Proteas manager Mohammed Moosajee.

“His thumb has been splintered and immobilised and a decision on what happens further will be made in the next two days.”

Tahir is the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker with 11 victims in three matches.

England applied to have Chris Tremlett replace fellow fast bowler Stuart Broad, who was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a side strain.

Tremlett has been with the squad throughout the competition as a stand-by player.

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