High-flying India look to clinch series

Cricket Second ODI : Wounded England aim to stay alive

High-flying India look to clinch series

A high-flying India will be looking to heap more misery on a wounded England side when they lock horns in the second and penultimate game of the one-day international series here on Thursday.

Ever since they first set foot on Indian shores in November with plenty of hope, most things have gone wrong for England while just about everything has gone right for the Indian side that is showing a new edge under Virat Kohli’s stewardship.

After their Test series defeat and the break for Christmas, England arrived again this month with some fresh personnel and a different leader in hope of turning things around. They looked on course to registering their first win of the tour when they amassed 350/7 at Pune on Sunday — their highest ODI total against India — and had reduced the hosts to 63/4 in 11.5 overs. However, much to their disbelief, they were left shaken as Kedar Jadhav and Kohli staged a stunning resurrection as India scaled the mammoth target down with 11 balls and three wickets to spare.

India will be keen to use that adrenaline to script another series win over their deflated opponents at the Barabati Stadium. India’s ODI record over England has been phenomenal since the 2006 series. Including that series, the Indians have won four on the trot, a record that reads 18 wins against three losses.

Despite that, the Indians are smart enough to know that momentum can change hands very quickly in this crisp ODI series. With just three matches, it needs one to tee off strongly and maintain that flow consistently throughout. And, a smarting England would be more than happy to pounce any complacency.

India do have a few chinks in their armour and they would be keen to sort that in this game. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and K L Rahul misfired in the opening game and pressure is mounting on the former to get a big knock considering his place in the side is dangling by a thin thread.

Veteran Yuvraj Singh, who looked good in his short stay, would want to justify his recall while Mahendra Singh Dhoni, going through a prolonged slump in form having accrued just 284 runs from 14 games since the start of last year, will be desperate to find his famed finishing touch. Although the pitch at the MCA Stadium was a batting paradise, the bowling struggled for most part and considering the Barabati track is going to aid the willow wielders, they will have to be on the mark from the word go.

England, who have beaten India twice for a 50-50 record at this venue, will be hoping their plans fall in place. With plenty of attacking batsmen in their line-up, they need to turn up believing they can get one past India and try to strike a balance between aggression and calmness.

Having said that, both teams will have to also fight off fatigue considering they landed only on Wednesday afternoon. It’s never easy checking-in and playing the next day without a feel of the conditions and it remains to be seen how fresh both teams will be.

Both camps will also have to keep an eye on the dew. Grass has been cut extra to minimise its effect but it’s bound to play a significant role. Add the shortened boundaries and it could be another run fest.

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