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India will push hard for victory

S. Dinakar

West Indies needs to find ways to make the middle overs count

— Photo: AFP

QUICK LEARNER: Praveen Kumar has adapted to the conditions in the West Indies quite commendably.

Port of Spain: The Indians will push hard to move closer to a series win in the second ODI at the Queen's Park Oval here on Wednesday.

If Suresh Raina's men gain a 2-0 lead in a five-match series, the West Indies will face the daunting prospect of having to win the remaining three games.

There were some positives for India from Monday's four-wicket victory on a slow surface where batting was never easy. Despite a stumble, the young Indian team deserves credit for holding its nerve.

Rohit Sharma displayed maturity and was judicious in his stroke-selection. This could well prove a breakthrough series for the right-hander with timing and poise.

Shikhar Dhawan will remember his maiden ODI half-century but not the manner in which he was dismissed. The left-hander can essay a few spanking shots but needs to tighten his game when the ball jags around. An opener has to be sure about his off-stump.

Astute captain

Raina led the side well. The bowling changes worked and he distributed the fifth bowler's quota in a manner that did not give the batsmen an opportunity to target a non-specialist bowler.

He is also bowling his off-spin with increasing control. If you watch his action closely, you can see a pause before he releases the ball. This provides Raina an opportunity to spot the initial movement of the batsman. It is an attribute that can make him an effective bowler in the end overs.

Raina is also quicker through the air, does not provide much room for the batsman to get under the ball for the big hits.

Of course, he is a batsman who can change the momentum of a contest. A busy customer, he pushes and nudges the ball around, before launching into the bigger blows. His aggression is calculated.

On the bowling front, Indian pacemen Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar have adjusted capably to the conditions here. And they did exploit the early life in the track.

Harbhajan Singh relied on subtle variations in flight, which was heartening. And Amit Mishra sent down a good mix of leg-spinners and ‘wrong-uns'.

Yet, the question of R. Ashwin remains.

Interestingly, on the last occasion when Ashwin bowled against the West Indies — in the league game of the ICC World Cup in Chennai — he sent down all his 10 overs in the Power Plays and did a commendable job.

Now, if the team has so much confidence in a bowler, that it uses his entire quota when the field restrictions are in place, then he should be an automatic selection in the eleven. Is the bar raised higher for Ashwin?

The West Indies will need to act quickly to find a way to make the game-changing middle overs count. While there is a lot of focus on Power Plays, it is the middle overs that provide a side momentum and direction.

Tentative

The inability of the West Indian batsmen to work the ball around into the empty spaces is hurting the side.

The batsmen have been tentative in their use of feet. With every dot ball, the pressure has mounted.

Ramnaresh Sarwan handles spin better than most, but is not in the best of form while Marlon Samuels is still not at his fluent best. And there was little in the West Indian batting in the final stretch. The side collapsed in a heap. Under the circumstances, the hosts could get Darren Bravo to open the innings with Lendl Simmons and open up a place for Kieron Pollard. The side needs Pollard's firepower in the end overs.

The teams (from):

India: S. Raina (captain), S. Dhawan, Parthiv, V. Kohli, S. Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan, A. Mishra, Munaf, Praveen, R. Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, M. Tiwary, Vinay Kumar and W. Saha.

West Indies: D. Sammy (captain), L. Simmons, R. Sarwan, Darren Bravo, M. Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, K. Pollard, C. Baugh, D. Bishoo, R. Rampaul, A. Martin, K. Edwards and A. Russel.

Match starts at 6.30 p.m. (IST).

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