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Opening balance, Kohli's form a concern ahead of 2nd Windies ODI

October 10, 2014 16:37 IST
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Team India in the first ODI against the West Indies, in Kochi. Photograph: BCCI

Still licking their wounds after a sound thrashing in the lung opener, India will have to regroup quickly and fortify the chinks in their armoury when they take on a determined West Indies in the second One-Day International in Delhi on Saturday.

Going into the series as overwhelming favourites, the home side lost the first ODI by 124 runs, against a side that was threatening to pull-out of the series due to a payment dispute with their parent body and cricketers’ union.

The Caribbean players put behind that distraction and the disappointment of not having at least top of their two players - Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine - in the side to come out triumphant.

While Gayle is recovering from a hamstring injury, off-spinner Narine, who had to miss the Champions League T20 final for Kolkata Knight Riders because of being called twice for chucking, was withdrawn from the series to work on his action.

Suresh Raina looks behind to find himself bowled in the first ODI, at Kochi. Photograph: BCCI

India will be looking to draw level at the Feroz Shah Kotla, where pitches have improved off late. However, with the World Cup preparations starting with this series, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is looking to get his combination in order before the team travels Down Under in six weeks’ time.

The batting slots are more or less fixed even though the side was shot out for a paltry 197 on a belter of a track at Kochi.

The biggest concern is Virat Kohli's prolonged lean patch since the tour of England. Even former skipper Sunil Gavaskar has spoken openly about Kohli's technical flaws, opining that the talented batsman should be dropped down the order to make him get back to his run-making ways.

India's fortunes in this series and their title defence in the upcoming 50-over showpiece event depends a lot on his form.

Mahendra Singh is bowled in the first ODI, at Kochi. Photograph: BCCI

The only spot that is not confirmed is that of Ambati Rayudu, who got a break in this series due to Rohit Sharma's injury.

Rayudu hasn’t exactly set the stage on fire and would like to make best use of the opportunity before a fit-again Rohit is available for selection.

The opening slot is also a matter of concern, as Shikhar Dhawan, who was top-scorer in the first match, did not look convincing with his shot selection.

With Murali Vijay in the dressing room and Unmukt Chand waiting in the wings, the team management would expect Dhawan to pull up his socks.

Bowling is also a big worry for India as the hosts conceded 321 runs -- another 300 plus score on home soil in the past one year.

The spinners leaked 142 runs in 22 overs in Kochi and that cost India dearly. The hosts would expect their spinners to do better in home conditions.

While Dhoni did not criticize his bowlers but the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra performed below-par while Mohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami, who did bag a four-wicket haul, bowled too many loose deliveries.

Ishant Sharma's return will bolster the bowling attack, though it remains to be seen whether Dhoni inducts the lanky pacer into the eleven. Sharma has been drafted into the team in place of an injured Mohit Sharma.

It will be interesting to see if chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav is blooded since Dhoni does not believe in too much chopping and changing.

The West Indies are heavily dependent on senior players like captain Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard.

With acrimonious relation with their WIPA chief Wavell Hinds reaching an all time low, the Caribbeans will be hoping that they can keep their on-field focus intact despite the off-field distractions.

The way Samuels and Denesh Ramdin batted, the Windies have actually shown that other issues do take a back seat when they take field.

While the Caribbean side is looking to keep the momentum going, India cannot afford to lose another match, as trailing 0-2 in a five match series would put the hosts under tremendous pressure.

Teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Murali Vijay, Kuldeep Yadav.

West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (C), Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russel, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.

Match starts at 2.30 pm (IST).

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