The stage is all set for the second match of the 3-match ODI series going on between India and Pakistan to be held in Eden Gardens, Kolkata. The away side is looking for a deciding lead whereas the home side will look forward to level the series and go to Delhi to decide the result of the series. India will be under a lots of pressure going into this must win game. The ground record states that Pakistan has slight edge over the home side. Lets have a look at the probable lineups:
The great Indian batting lineup did not bat as per its reputation and were struggling against the pace dominated attack of Pakistan side, especially swinging deliveries of Junaid Khan. The openers need to focus on surviving rather than going for early boundaries to avoid the misfortune of Chennai.
The batting lineup is mostly unlikely to change. However, we may see Ajinkya Rahane getting a chance as Virat Kohli is still doubtful about his injured knee during the first ODI. Even if Kohli plays, we may still see Rahane opening the batting with Virender Sehwag and Rohit Sharma sitting on bench. This will provide stability to the side as Kohli is not much comfortable at No. 3, Gambhir coming in at No. 3 will be beneficial for the side. Also, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni will bat at their usual and better suited 5th and 7th spot then. Dhoni and Suresh Raina will be hoping not to arrive as early at crease as they had to do in Chennai.
Looking at the bowling lineup, the seamers were up to the mark and did their jobs well in the first ODI. So, it is rather unlikely that any of them will be dropped. Ravi Ashwin is also a better prospect and will be given a chance ahead of Amit Mishra. The main problem that India faced during first ODI was the runs leaked by the part-timers. So, there is possibility that India will go with 5 bowlers. In that case, one of the batsman has to sit out and it would again point in the direction of Rohit Sharma.
Pakistan batting lineup, they has nothing to worry about. Nasir Jamshed, the in-form batsman will open the batting with his T20 Captain against his favourite opposition. Azhar Ali is also likely to get a chance in this match, though he was dismissed cheaply in the first match. Younus Khan, skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik provide the experience and depth expected from a middle order. Lastly the wicket keeping batsman Kamran Akmal come in handy for scoring quick runs towards the end of the innings. He also adds to the stability to the side.
Junaid Khan, the pick of the bowlers during the first match will be given the new ball again at Kolkata and Pakistan will be expecting the same performance as Chennai from him. Mohammad Irfan who pulled a hamstring during the first match is likely to share the new ball. If he does not get fit or as a precautionary measure, Wahab Riaz could be given a chance to share the new ball. Umar Gul, the consistent performer will be the third seamer. Saeed Azmal will be the spinner in the team and the fourth bowler, Hafeez and Malik will bowl the fifth bowler’s quota.
Probable playing XI:
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma/Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C & W) , R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (C) , Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (W), Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan/Wahab Riaz.
Ground and Pitch: The pitch at Kolkata generally favours batsman and the matches are high scoring, even 300+ scores have been chased in this very ground. There is also dew factor coming into picture as the match is day-night. Not so important toss, but whoever wins would like to bat first and put 300+ on the scoreboard.
Predictions: Pakistan is looking a balanced side and India is still looking for right balance. But, I would go for India’s win as it will keep the series alive and after that performance in first ODI, India will look forward to silence the critics and make a strong comeback which has been the specialty of Indo-Pak competitions in the past. Whatever happens, the contest will be worth watching. Let’s see what unfolds at Eden Gardens.