Preview: India looks for right combination ahead of second T20 against Pakistan
By Divya Suryanarayan
Ahmedabad: Dec 27, 2012
India will have to quickly plug their batting shortcomings and pick the right team composition when they go into the second and last Twenty20 cricket international against arch rivals Pakistan on Friday, hoping to level the two match series 1-1.
India suffered a five-wicket drubbing in the series opener in Bangalore after a middle-order collapse, which saw the hosts struggle to 130 for nine after being 90 for two at one stage.
The hosts desperately need to win the second game to level the series and the pressure will be on captain MS Dhoni and his men to deliver the goods when it matters the most.
Apart from Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (42), all the other batsmen failed to apply themselves when confronted against a strong bowling attack spearheaded by the experienced Umar Gul.
In fact, all-rounder Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were the only ones other than the openers to have reached the double figures.
India would need the likes of Virat Kohli, Dhoni, Yuvraj and Rohit Sharma to regroup and fire in unison against the traditional rivals who are also equally determined to clinch the T20 series.
The bowling also remains a persistent headache for the Indians. Except for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who finished with impressive figures of three for nine in his debut game, none of the other bowlers could trouble the Pakistani batsmen.
Ashok Dinda, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja all struggled to get wickets or even check the flow of runs.
The decision to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin in the last match was seen as a move that worked in Pakistan’s favour and Dhoni might be tempted to play him in the must-win tie.
The Indians had opted to go in with three specialist seamers in the last match and it will be interesting to see whether they go in with the same strategy or include a spinner.
Captain Dhoni had blamed the failure of the middle-order batsmen to capitalise on the good start as the reason for his team’s defeat in the first match.
“The batsmen got out trying to play big shots. We could have easily scored 200 if we had applied ourselves,” Dhoni had said.
It remains to be seen whether the batsmen put up a better display now and not go for wreckless shots in a bid to accelerate the pace of scoring.
Dhoni himself will be under intense pressure with his captaincy coming under the scanner in the aftermath of the recent Test debacle against England.
He has always been regarded as a better captain in the shorter formats of the game, but the recent defeats in T20 matches has certainly dented his reputation.
The defeats have come at home, where the team is playing in familiar conditions, and Dhoni has a tough task in lifting the morale of the team.
India (probable): Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ashoke Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.
Pakistan (probable): Ahmad Shahzad, Nasir Jamshaid, Mohammad Hafeez (c), Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanveer, Umar Gul.
On-field umpires: Sudhir Asnani and Vineet Kulkarni
Third umpire: C Shamshuddin
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama
Time: 17.00 local (11.30 GMT)
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