India lead the three-match series 1-0 © IANS

By Tapan Mohanta

Visakhapatnam: Nov 23, 2013

A dominant India would look to seal the one-day series by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead against a struggling West Indies, who are proving to be a complete mismatch to the world champions, as the two teams square off in the second match at Visakhapatnam on Sunday.

After a listless performance in the Test series, losing explosive opener Chris Gayle to an injury has added to the woes and worries of the Caribbean side, who now face a do-or-die situation to save the series.

The West Indies were expected to do better in the short format, but they have failed to put up a fight as their batsmen continue to struggle.

The reversal of fortunes has eluded the visitors as India cantered to a six-wicket victory with 88 deliveries to spare to take a 1-0 lead in Kochi.

The victory was soothing for the wounded Indian bowlers who were pulverised in the last One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia as they could finally exert some pressure on the batting.

Back after being given a rest to heal his shoulder injury in the Test series, Ravindra Jadeja led the spin attack by taking three wickets to bowl the Windies out for a paltry 211.

For a team that had chased down 350-plus totals twice to win the ODI series against Australia not so long ago, it was a cakewalk as they cruised home by six wickets with 88 deliveries to spare.

Indian trio of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan have been the force behind the batting as they have shown no target is safe.

Man of the Match Kohli struck 86 in the first ODI and in the process emulated Viv Richards’s feat of 5,000 runs from 114 innings as his 133-run partnership with Rohit Sharma (72) set up the chase against the Windies.

After six years of obscurity, it is the talented Sharma who has been a revelation since he was promoted to open against England at Mohali in January this year.

The figures say it all. In 26 matches as an opener, Sharma aggregates 1,172 at 53.27, compared to his career total of 3121 (at 37.15), that is more than 37 per cent of the runs.

Sharma relished the role to perfection in India’s Champions Trophy victory in June, became the third ever batsman to post a double century before finally getting the Test cap after playing 108 ODIs.

The Test debut too has been of a fairy tale kind as he has posted back-to-back centuries — 177 and 111*, as he has five consecutive fifty-plus scores in International cricket.

He would look to enthrall the spectators at a ‘special’ venue which is his mom Purnima Sharma’s home town.

The Andhra Cricket Association-Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association (ACA-VDCA) Stadium has always been lucky for India who have won all the four matches here right from the very first one on April 5, 2005 when a long-haired Dhoni came into prominence with his 123-ball 148 to devastate Pakistanis.

Since then, Kohli with two consecutive centuries here — against Australia and the West Indies — has also made this one of his favourite venues as he would be looking forward to a hat-trick of tons here.

Nestled on the backdrop of an idyllic Simhachalam range on the outskirts of the port city, the ACA-VDCA Stadium has always been a run-belter but it remains to be seen how the wicket behaves with the two days of incessant rains because of cyclone ‘Helen’ that hit coastal Andhra yesterday afternoon.

Both the teams opted out of practice to give the groundsmen ample time to get the stadium ready in time and avoid a second successive washout after the one against New Zealand in a T20I in September last year.

The rain has subsided after two days to brighten the hopes as there’s no shower forecast for Sunday.

As for the ordinary-looking Windies, the gloom continues even as there has been a change to coloured clothing, a shift in captaincy with an addition of a few limited over ‘specialists’.

Cast as ‘drunk after a heavy T20 diet by World Cup winner Clive Lloyd, the Windies have a lot to do so as to make an impact. Their batsmen are not showing the right temperament as was admitted by Test skipper Darren Sammy who too has been criticised for lack of contribution to the team as an all-rounder.

It remains to be seen whether the team think-tank will make any drastic change in their must-win match by dropping the Test skipper, while Kieran Powell may get a look-in after Gayle’s unfortunate injury.

The team has been a shadow of their past that toured in 2011 as they had put up a strong fight.

Much would depend on their big-hitters as was shown by wicketkeeper batsman Johnson Charles in the last ODI at Kochi, while the Bravo half-brothers (skipper Dwayne and Darren) and Marlon Samuels too have to get into their act at the batting-friendly surface.

With mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine and pacer Ravi Rampaul joining the squad for the ODI mould, much would depend on the duo as well.

The series will conclude with the third and final one-dayer in Kanpur on November 27.