Room for improvement for both teams
Wednesday, June 8, Port of Spain
Start time 0900 (1300 GMT)
The first ODI epitomised everything that is going wrong with West Indies cricket. It began with the openers: in Chris Gayle's absence, the uncalled-for timidity from Lendl Simmons and Kirk Edwards ended up giving credence to Sunil Gavaskar's comparison of Munaf Patel to Glenn McGrath. Once the spinners came on, the middle order shut shop. Nothing captured West Indies' woes more succinctly than the number 169 - their dot-ball count on Monday.
Ramnaresh Sarwan, who has collared better Indian attacks in tougher circumstances in the past, was restricted to poking and jabbing in hope. Marlon Samuels also was a pale shadow of the batsman who thumped a fierce century against India eight years ago. The result was a score as underwhelming as the bowling attack that tried to defend it, and an easy win for India, despite their own skittish approach to the chase. West Indies will need a huge lift in all departments - including their lethargic out-cricket - if they are to match the Indians.
Twice in two games on tour, India's top order has faltered. The depth in their line-up opened up escape routes on both occasions, but Duncan Fletcher will want more application at the top. Parthiv Patel has a wide range of shots, but will be expected to put a bigger price on his wicket, after perishing to a needless run-out in the first ODI. Shikhar Dhawan looked ill at ease against seam and spin, but to his credit he managed to scrap his way to a half-century. S Badrinath knows how long it has taken him to get a second chance in the India side, and will try to make the opportunity count. And despite finishing in sublime fashion, Rohit Sharma will want to revisit his alarming shot-selection early on. In short, there is plenty of room for improvement from both sides.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies: LWWLL
Amit Mishra goes about his work with such quiet efficiency that he rarely gets noticed. On Monday, he easily out-bowled Harbhajan Singh without getting the reward he deserved. There was loop, flight, drift and variety, and at times the West Indies batsmen were just not good enough to edge him. R Ashwin breathes down Mishra's neck for the spot of second spinner, but his rhythm on Monday should give him another chance. Mishra now needs wickets to back his case for the rest of the series.
Over the past year or so, Dwayne Bravo has struggled to live up to his own standards, especially with the bat. In the first one-dayer, he was beginning to get into his groove when he walked past a Harbhajan drifter. When Bravo is in good form, he is a fine player of spin, and the dominance is founded upon his sure footwork. Will he be able to reprise that fluency in front of his home crowd?
India are unlikely to fiddle with the two-seamer, two-spinner combination given the lifeless nature of the pitch at Queen's Park Oval. Manoj Tiwary might come up in team discussions, but S Badrinath has earned at least a couple of opportunities to fail in the middle order. Ishant Sharma, too, is likely to be eased into action later in the series.
India (possible): 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 S Badrinath, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina (capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Munaf Patel.
West Indies will seriously consider bringing in Kieron Pollard to inject some urgency in the middle order. While Anthony Martin gave a good account of himself with the ball, it is tough to imagine West Indies succeeding against India with two specialist legspinners in their XI.
West Indies (possible): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Kirk Edwards, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Kieron Pollard/Andre Russell, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Carlton Baugh (wk), 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Devendra Bishoo/Anthony Martin.
Stats and trivia
- This will be the 98th one-dayer between these two sides. India have won 40, and West Indies 54
- Among the players in this series, Ramnaresh Sarwan (1319) has scored most runs in India-West Indies matches
"When you play for India it is a given that fans and media would talk about your performance. I have no problem with it. But yes I have worked extremely hard over my fitness in the last three months and I want this tour to count for me."
Rohit Sharma is determined to build on his strong start to the tour
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.