India seek to cement lead

Onus on Kiwis to do the running in todays second one-dayer

India seek to cement lead

India's Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli prepare to bat during a practice session on the eve of the second ODI cricket match against New Zealand in Jaipur on Tuesday. PTI

Since then, however, the pitch here has remarkably turned into a batsman-friendly one as two subsequent high-scoring draws would suggest. Shorn of grass, the track promises a run-filled affair, though dew is expected to play a crucial role.

High on their 40-run win in the opening match, Gautam Gambhir’s India present a confident picture while the same can’t be said of an injury-hit New Zealand. The visitors did receive a shot in the arm on Tuesday afternoon with skipper Daniel Vettori, who skipped the Guwahati match due to a niggle, declaring himself fit, but doubts remain about Brendon McCullum’s availability.

As if the uncertainty over McCullum wasn’t bad enough, the Kiwis suffered another mighty blow when medium-pacer Daryl Tuffey was ruled out of the remainder of the series after straining his right bicep.

The latest injury setback was the last thing Vettori, already without Jesse Ryder, needed as the bespectacled all-rounder seeks to reverse his team’s losing streak that has stretched to five matches now.

Much will depend again on Ross Taylor, who did manage a sparkling half-century, but with McCullum possibly not playing, the right-hander needs to do much more than he did in Guawhati. Encouragingly for the Kiwis, Taylor, who needed a runner during the course of his knock on Sunday, looked in fine shape during Tuesday’s practice session.

India have been on a roll this year. They have been exceptional in Tests alright, but their performances in one-dayers has been nothing short of impressive.

Winning streak

Except the August tri-series in Sri Lanka, to whom they lost in the final, India have won all 50-over tournaments they have played in. With five of their regulars out for various reasons, India may look a depleted side, but Gambhir and Co proved more than a handful for New Zealand in the opener with the script panning out as they had expected it to.

Gambhir and Murali Vijay got them off to a decent start, Virat Kohli anchored the innings with a well-calculated century and a couple of others produced useful cameos as India managed a healthy total. With the bowlers, particularly spinners R Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh, exploiting the slow nature of the pitch, the target turned out to be too steep for the Black Caps.

The facile victory, however, failed to mask India’s middle-order fragility, which saw them settle for less than what they could have achieved as they lost their last six wickets for just 26 runs. While this is not a cause for alarm yet, India would do well to overcome the hiccup soon. The bowling shaped up pretty well too with Yuvraj bowling his 10 overs while helping Gambhir keep an expensive Yusuf Pathan out, but you can’t expect the part-time left-arm spinner to come up with such bowling shows every match.

S Sreesanth’s one-day place continues to be cast in doubt. The right-arm quick did manage back-to-back wickets in his second spell to signal India’s victory, but his run-leaking ways up front were a big worry for Gambhir.       

With the slow bowlers expected to play an important role again on a wicket that appears a bit dry, as Gambhir put it, India are mulling playing an extra spinner in Ravindra Jadeja, who in all likelihood will replace Pathan.

New Zealand too will be going in with two spinners in the returning Vettori and off-spinner Nathan McCullum. On the slowish Guwahati pitch, the visitors did miss the services of Vettori’s left-arm spin; on another potentially slow turner, it remains to be seen if New Zealand’s strategy will bear fruit.
Teams (from):
India: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth, Saurabh Tiwary, R Vinay Kumar.
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (capt), Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Kane Williamson, Grant Elliot, Gareth Hopkins, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Andy McKay, James Franklin, Tim Southee.
Umpires: Nigel Llong (England) and Sanjay Hazare. Third umpire: Sudhir Asnani. Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka).

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