Toss crucial as mismatched sides face off
Match factsFriday, July 26, 2013
Start time 0900 local (0700 GMT)
World champions and Champions Trophy winners India currently have 122 ranking points, a massive 68 more than 10th-placed Zimbabwe. In the first ODI, there was no masking the huge difference in quality between the two sides, though India's squad is filled with new faces.
What would have helped Zimbabwe put up more of a fight was winning the toss, which could prove critical in deciding whether the matches in Harare are competitive. After Virat Kohli called correctly on Wednesday, the new balls jagged around sharply for the first hour, posing plenty of problems for Zimbabwe's openers. Sikandar Raza and Vusi Sibanda were able to withstand the early examination but the score only moved along sluggishly. With games starting as early as 9am, that early assistance is even more pronounced. By the time India came out to bat, the pitch had dried out and was a benign batting surface which offered little for Zimbabwe's bowlers.
On a tour which allows India the luxury to experiment, the visitors blooded two players in the first ODI, and both had decent outings. Saurashtra fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat will be reasonably satisfied with his debut (10-1-39-1), a marked difference from his first Test which was a forgettable wicket-less performance. The other newcomer, Ambati Rayudu, will be even happier, after a careful unbeaten 63* helped shepherd India to a comfortable victory.
Zimbabwe's bowling looked innocuous but one thing to hearten the home side's fans was the performance of Raza, the opener, who made a patient 82 to anchor the innings. That meant for the third game in a row, Zimbabwe's top order had provided a healthy beginning. The home team will need more of that tomorrow, especially if they are again asked to bat first.
Form guide(most recent first, last five completed games)
In the spotlightThough it has been nearly a decade since Dinesh Karthik made his international debut, a permanent spot remains elusive. His call-up for the Champions Trophy in June came on the back of a sustained run of big scores in domestic competitions and it brought him back to the national team after nearly three years. The big scores haven't materialised for India yet, and with MS Dhoni set to return for the next ODI series, Karthik has only a few more chances to nail down a place in the middle order.
Brendan Taylor is Zimbabwe's most accomplished batsman but he hasn't had the best of times recently. His highest score in the past seven innings is 39, and Zimbabwe will hope he can produce bigger numbers than that in this series. Also, he came in as late as the 34th over in the first ODI. Perhaps Zimbabwe will tweak the order to allow him the opportunity to spend more time in the middle.
Team newsZimbabwe's batting seems fairly settled but they have plenty of options in their large squad when it comes to the bowling. Fast bowler Brian Vitori is one of those who could be picked after being left out of the first game.
Zimbabwe (likely): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Sikandar Raza, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sean Williams, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Tinotenda Mutombodzi/Brian Vitori, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Tendai Chatara
India are unlikely to switch around their team too much unless there are injuries. Perhaps the only player whose place will be questioned is quick bowler Vinay Kumar, who was again expensive towards the end of the innings.
India (likely): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Vinay Kumar, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Mohammad Shami
Stats and trivia
- On Wednesday, Kohli became the quickest to 15 ODI hundreds; it took him only 109 innings, breaking the previous record held by Saeed Anwar (143 innings)
- In the last 10 years, Zimbabwe's opening partnership in ODIs against India yields 43.66 runs on average. The next highest against a Test nation is 28.60 against England
- The 159-run stand between Kohli and Ambati Rayudu in the first ODI was the highest for the third wicket in India-Zimbabwe ODIs
Quotes"When the wicket's flat it seems nearly impossible [to get Kohli out]. He's a class player and he's done it against the best teams in the world."
* July 25 5.00pm GMT Rayudu's score has been corrected
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo