India aim to strengthen hold against the Windies

PORT OF SPAIN (Trinidad): It was not the most comprehensive of wins but having taken a morale-boosting 1-0 lead in the series, India would look to press home the advantage against a nervy West Indies in the second one-dayer, here on Wednesday.

The four-wicket win in the first one-dayer came after a wobbly start and the second-string Indian team would be aiming to plug the loopholes as the series progresses.

Missing key players Sachin Tendulkar and regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the young team led by Suresh Raina benefited from the West Indians’ follies in the lung-opener.

The Caribbeans, on the other hand, would hope to tilt the scale in their favour by picking up on the few positives they gained from the four-wicket loss at the Queen’s Park Oval here last night.

The hosts might have lost the first game by four wickets but they were probably 30 runs and a wicket away from walking away as winners.

Even though the pitch was sluggish, West Indies could have tested India with a score of 250-plus. That score was a possibility till key men Ramnaresh Sarwan (56) and Marlon Samuels (55), after an 82-run fourth wicket stand, departed in the final overs.

And when the Indians batted, another wicket around the midway stage with the visitors struggling at 104 for 4, could have brought them to their knees.

None of it happened and West Indies went down with five overs to spare.

Encouragingly for the hosts though, experienced batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan showed signs of returning to his best and there was much heart to be drawn in the performance of young spinners Devendra Bishoo and Anthony Martin.

West Indies could do with a little more firepower at their command in the second match and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Kieron Pollard figures in the starting XI.

The all-rounder, without a fail, is an asset on the field and on his day, can win a game for the side with either bat or ball.

Pollard was left out of the game probably as a slap on his wrist for not preferring regional competition over the IPL. Now that the point has been made, he could be asked to bolster the side.

West Indies would also be encouraged by the lack of firepower at the Indians’ command.

Even though the visiting spinners are difficult to get away, they are more economical than destructive in their spells.

Only if West Indies could rotate the strike -they played no less than 29.2 overs as dot balls on Monday- they could yet push Indians into disarray.

For Indians, the worry is the apparent lack of class among openers. Parthiv Patel and Shikhar Dhawan have been pitch-forked to fill in for the injured duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir and their start was not too impressive.

But India’s strength lies in its middle-order which has a talented bunch of batsmen including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. In fact, both of them came good in the opening match with half centuries.

Only if West Indies could get into India’s middle order quickly and strike one or two fortuitous blows, they could still get the Indians in a spot.

Even though spinners are the strength for the Indians and the hosts are playing into their hands, the visitors would be happy if openers could inspire faith and there is more firepower in their bowling attack.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra, preferred ahead of R Ashwin, was impressive and so was Harbhajan Singh but there was little to suggest the visitors have the necessary edge to their attack.

The pace department is missing Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel would have to produce a special effort to prove himself a worthy replacement.

But given that the West Indians are desperately missing a certain Chris Gayle, the odds still favour the Suresh Raina and his men.

Squads:

West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Lendl Simmons, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Carlton Baugh (wicket-keeper), Andre Russell, Anthony Martin, Devendra Bishoo, Ravi Rampaul.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, Subramaniam Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ramachandran Ashwin, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma.

The match starts 6.30 pm (IST).(PTI)

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