India batsmen to improve show in 2nd ODI
The opening match of the five-match series in Cuttack two days ago saw an inexperienced Indian bowling restrict the Caribbean side for a paltry 211 for nine. But chasing the modest total, India`s much-fancied batting line-up faltered and if not for comeback man Rohit Sharma`s 99-ball 72, the home team could have been down 0-1 in the series.
India`s inexperienced pace trio of R Vinay Kumar (1/27), Varun Aaron (2/47) and Umesh Yadav (2/33) not only excelled with the ball in Cuttack but also showed amazing calmness while batting to set up the thrilling one-wicket victory for the hosts. Needing 11 runs off 23 balls under tense situation, the last wicket pair of Aaron and Yadav kept their calm and saw India home with seven balls to spare.
And the Indian thinktank obviously will not want a repeat of the Cuttack episode, especially on a run-belter at the Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, where the hosts have an all-win record in the three matches they played here. India`s stand-in captain Virender Sehwag, who is leading the side in place of regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has already cautioned the batsmen after the Cuttack match, saying there should not be any excuse for poor show.
"There is no excuse for anybody not scoring runs," he said about India`s batting collapse in the first ODI. We have to back our batting. We have some exciting youngsters playing for last three four years," Sehwag said.
But Dhoni, who has been rested for the series keeping in mind the upcoming tour of Australia, will be sorely missed by the spectators here. Hosting a match after more than two years, the venue remains a testimony of Dhoni`s rise to stardom as it is this ground where he scored his maiden ODI sentury, a blistering 148 off 123 balls against Pakistan in 2005.
But in the absence of senior players like Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar, the cricket-crazy crowd of the port city would be looking towards Sehwag to produce a gem of an innings tomorrow. Sehwag, who was bowled by an incoming Kemar Roach delivery in Cuttack, would also be keen to improve his batting record as captain. He averages a poor 21.50 with 44 being his best score from eight matches as skipper.
Wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel also would be eyeing to make amends for his poor show in Cuttack and cash in on yet another oppotunity with both bat and gloves in place of Dhoni.
Among other Indian top-order batsmen, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, who all disappointed in Cuttack, will be desperate to avoid yet another collapse by returning among runs tomorrow. Apart from Rohit, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was the other Indian batsmen to provide some resistence in the first ODI with a gritty 62-ball 38, and he would be hoping to convert his starts into big scores.
The inexperienced Indian bowlers, on the other hand, impressed all and sundry with their performance in Cuttack. The three-pronged pace attack of Vinay Kumar, Yadav and Aaron stood up and grabbed their chances with both hands so far in the absence of seniors like Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar, who are out with injuries. And the trio would once again look to strangle the West Indies batsmen with a tidy performance tomorrow.
On the spin department front, R Ashwin, who bowled tightly in the first ODI, would like to continue his dream form. Ashwin will share the responsibility of spin attack with Jadeja and part-timers Raina and Rohit as India are all set to field an unchanged side tomorrow in search of a 2-0 lead.
West Indies too have problems galore in their batting department which they need to sort out immediately to stand in with any chance of upsetting the home team in the ODI series after the 2-0 loss in the Test rubber. In the first ODI, all the West Indies top-order batsmen got starts but except Darren Bravo, no one could capitalise on them. Bravo, who scored a 74-ball 60 in the first match, will be the batting mainstay for the Caribbean side, which is full of allrounders.
But the need of the hour for captain Darren Sammy is a solid opening foundation and he would bank on Lendl Simmons, who has a good record against the Indians, and Adrian Barath for that. For the West Indies, the last match was another so-near-yet-so far story in the series. And it remains to be seen whether they learn from the mistakes, having let India win from a precarious position in the first ODI.
With good knowledge of subcontinental conditions, big-hitting all-rounder Kieron Pollard will be the key man for the visitors and the West Indies thinktank may just look to bring him up the order. "We all have seen what he (Pollard) has done here in IPL.
Last time he played in the World Cup, he batted well. He has a lot of knowledge about the Indian conditions and Indian players having played here for three seasons," skipper Sammy had said. "We look forward to his knowledge and experience. We will look to use that into effect," Sammy added.
The Kemar Roach-led West Indies bowling attack, however, showed in the last match that they have what it takes to trouble the famed Indian batsmen on their home ground. In the absence of Ravi Rampaul, who was rested, Roach, who picked up three wickets, and his colleagues dished out lethal performance to make life diffuclt for the Indian batsmen.
But the spin department remains a worry for Sammy and the visitors may just look to strengthen the area by handing out a debut to off-spinner Sunil Narine, who was impressive in this year`s Champions League T20 in India.