Just spare a thought for the Windies. Following a dreadful outing in the Test matches, their batsmen put up a decent resistance in the limited-overs' series opener at Guwahati by scoring 322. Unfortunately, their bowlers were just blown apart by Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma's heroics as the visitors ended up losing the game by eight wickets and 47 balls to spare.
Heading into the second match in Vizag, which was moved from Indore at the last moment, recovering from the first ODI defeat will be the biggest challenge for Jason Holder and Co as such outings can have a demoralising effect on the entire squad.
In the first match, the Windies batting showed that they have the skills and depth to deal with the versatile Indian attack. However, these youngsters need to work harder on their temperament. In Guwahati, quite a few Windies batsmen got starts, but apart from Shimron Hetmyer, the others failed to make the most out of it. If you want to challenge a team like India in their own backward, flashes of brilliance are not enough, a more substantial effort is needed.
Ideally, you would expect a senior pro like Marlon Samuels to anchor the innings. Others can play around him. Also, the conditions at Vizag won't be as batting friendly as it were in the first ODI. Here, traditionally spinners play a more pivotal role. Hence, it is expected that this relatively inexperienced batting line-up will face an acid test against the tweakers and they need the prowess of Samuels to counter these slow-low conditions.
The Windies bowling attack looks quite one-dimensional. The pace trio of Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas and skipper Holder – has the potential but at times, they can be wayward and bowl predictable lengths. On Sunday, Kohli was fed with too many boundary balls at the start of his innings. It allowed him to get into the groove quickly.
The pacers need to minimise these mistakes while bowling with the new ball. India's strength lies in their top-order. So, if Windies want to make the hosts uncomfortable, they have no option but to take wickets with the new ball. And for that, they need a more disciplined effort from their new-ball bowlers.
In the spin department, both Ashley Nurse and Devendra Bishoo were dealt with authority by the Kohli-Rohit pair on the small ground in Guwahati. However, these slow bowlers should get more assistance from the pitch on Wednesday.
There are chances that uncapped left-arm spinner Fabian Allen may get a look in the playing eleven in place of Nurse, who leaked 63 in his seven overs in his previous outing. Medium-pacer Keemo Paul may come in as well replacing young Thomas.
From India's point of view, it is all about maintaining the tried and tested script.
Ideally, the hosts won't mind being pushed. In the series opener, they did not get the chance to test their vulnerable middle-order, which has been a cause of concern for the team management for a while now. The likes of Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu need time in the middle to justify their selections. MS Dhoni's role as a finisher, especially his decreasing strike-rate is another issue, which the think-tank needs to address going into the World Cup.
However, the way India's top-three – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli – have batted of late, it is highly unlikely that the team management will find a solution to the middle-order conundrum anytime soon, especially in this five-match series.
Nevertheless, skipper Kohli is just 81 runs away from the 10,000-run mark and the expected full-house at the Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in the coastal city of Andhra Pradesh will be hoping to witness this landmark moment.
The bowling, meanwhile, was below average in the first match. Mohammed Shami, in his comeback game, failed to impress. His fellow pacers, Umesh Yadav and Khaleel Ahmed did not make any significant impact as well. Hence, it will be interesting to see whether India continue with the three-pacer combination or they include Kuldeep Yadav in the mix on a dry surface. On Tuesday, the team management named an unchanged 12-man squad for this fixture. So, there is a possibility that the left-arm wrist-spinner may come in the playing XI, replacing one of the pace bowlers.
The Vizag Meteorological Department has predicted a mild thunderstorm during the fixture but it is unlikely to have any significant impact on the outcome of the match.
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