India eye a collective effort

India eye a collective effort

Dhoni's men need all-round contribution to stop the upbeat West Indians

India eye a collective effort

All those who expected the West Indies to resign as India’s punching bags, are still recovering from the shock the visitors delivered in the opening match at Kochi.

Their unexpected 124-run win has raised the interest in the five-match series. The Indians, looking to swell the ODI statistics as well their shaky morale, are now biting their lips. In the second one-dayer at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday they will need to galvanise much like the West Indies against crisis.

The Caribbean side, without their star players Sunil Narine and Chris Gayle and embroiled in a bitter payment dispute, seemed to have found an outlet for their angst through an inspiring all-round performance. Now, their losses in the two warm-up matches stand as an irony.

West Indies are a side that revels in the shorter version of the game. The vast experience of their players in the sub-continent has taken away the fear of unknown and spin does not give them sleepless nights anymore. Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin feasted on the Indian bowling in their match-winning stand and will once again be the key players on the low and slow Kotla track. Samuels, particularly, seems to be fond of Indian bowling. He has eight 50-plus scores in India, his most outside the West Indies.   Openers Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo, in the absence of injured regulars Lendl Simmons and Gayle, too gave a decent start to contribute to West Indies’ flight. The bowlers, led by Ravi Rampaul and captain Bravo, later did well to stifle India’s chase. The side, fresh from a successful Bangladesh tour, is brimming with the belief to excel on foreign pastures and that perhaps, too, had some role to play in the Kochi win. However, West Indies need to curb their inconsistency. Their chutzpah in the past has often proved to be short-lived.

India, on the other hand, have been in search of their flair that took them to the zenith of one-day cricket. The batting has always been India’s backbone. But a fractured show by their famed line-up at Kochi has added to the worries of captain MS Dhoni, who is already under pressure to find a solution to their below-par bowling at death overs.

At Kochi, only three Indian batsmen could cross the 20-figure mark. While it was a relief to see Shikhar Dhawan show some spark during his 68, none of the other top Indian batsmen clicked in the opening match. However, it is Virat Kohli’s indifferent form since the England tour has become a headache for the Indians. In his last 16 international innings, Kohli has failed to go beyond single figures nine times. The 25-year-old’s weakness on the off-stump has been repeatedly exploited by the opponents and the suggestions are already floating of demoting him from his regular No 3 spot to four or even five. Kohli spent a long session at the nets on Friday and will be hoping to turn around his fortunes on the home ground. The Indian quicks have struggled to provide breakthroughs and not been able to pick wickets at regular intervals. The spinners Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja were largely ineffective in Kochi and it won’t be a surprise if debutant chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav would be given a nod at Kotla. Also, home boy Ishant Sharma has replaced an injured Mohit Sharma and may get a look in.

The defeat at Kochi was a good shake up from the slumber, and the Indians need to stem the rot and take charge of the series with a commanding show on the morrow.