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Ailing India seek solace

Tuesday, 15 January 2013 - 8:26am IST | Place: Kochi | Agency: dna

The wicket at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is as flat as the one in Rajkot and it remains to be seen how Dhoni & Co arrest the slide in the second ODI today.

So what is ailing Team India? Neither MS Dhoni nor the team management seem to have a clue.

Picture this: India won the first Test in Ahmedabad, but England fought back to win the series 2-1. The subsequent Twenty20 series — against England and Pakistan — ended 1-1 before Pakistan won the three-match ODI series 2-1.

Non-performers Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan were duly axed but the youngsters didn’t exactly set the stage on fire. They have been impressive, but in patches. What they lack is experience, and the number of close losses prove just that.

The bowlers showed their mettle in New Delhi by defending a small total and, thereby, avoiding a whitewash. The same bunch faltered in the first ODI against England, albeit on a featherbed in Rajkot. Openers Alastair Cook and Ian Bell enjoyed a 158-run stand before part-timer Suresh Raina got India the breakthrough.

However, the bowlers won’t have much say in the second ODI either. The wicket at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here is also a batting paradise, although the outfield is on the slower side.

The bowlers, who took part in a separate session on Tuesday, were seen honing their skills. From bowling to the batsmen in the nets to hurling yorkers at a pair of shoes placed on the crease, they tried everything. India’s bowling at the death has been pedestrian and, maybe, the bowlers were trying to address that issue. A couple of them also tried out a few slower deliveries from the back of the hand.

Our batsmen are getting starts, but none of them is making it count. A lot is expected from the top order. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir threw it away in Rajkot. They will have to come good on Tuesday and help India build a solid platform.
Virat Kohli, too, has to deliver. The man who used to slam centuries at will has been silent with the bat of late. Scores of 15, 7, 6, 0, 23 don’t look good on his CV.

Meanwhile, Yuvraj Singh and Raina will have to take up the responsibility in the middle-order and bat out of their skins against a strong England bowling line-up.

Having Cheteshwar Pujara in the squad is a luxury, but the skipper doesn’t seem to be in the mood to play him. Whatever be the case, if India have to start winning, then Dhoni will have to get everything right.

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