2nd ODI: Eye on sky before the ‘Big Bash’

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KOLKATA: The city woke up to a wet Wednesday morning. But as the day unfolded the sky cleared up and a bright sun peeped through the clouds late in the evening raising hopes of a full contest between India and Australia in the second ODI at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday.

The ground, however, remained covered throughout the day forcing the visitors to head indoors for their practice session. Team India opted for a light training session that included some fun and frolic with a football-cum-volleyball game in front of the dressing room. But both sides, though, had a good look at the pitch.

Australian skipper Steven Smith wore a puzzled look. “There’s a little bit of grass on it -more than I’ve seen (anywhere) in India for a while,” he said at the match-eve press conference.Smith’s dilemma was understandable. After the loss in Chennai, the Australian camp has been busy preparing to tackle the two Indian wrist spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who shared five wickets between them giving away 63 runs in their nine overs.

Smith admitted that rain in Chennai affected Australia’s gameplan. Australia’s last four ODIs -three in the Champions Trophy as well Sunday’s match -have all been affected by rain, with two of them being wash-outs. Hence they are keen to have a full game on Thursday. “The other day, it was more like a T20 match for us.We’ll turn up tomorrow expecting to be playing 50 overs as that will give us a chance to get into the groove and execute our plans,” Smith said.

It remains to be seen whether the Aussies continue with Hilton Cartwright, who was unimpressive on his ODI debut in Chennai, at the top of the order. With Aaron Finch’s availability, still in doubt, Australia may push Travis Head up the order to open with David Warner and play Peter Handscomb in the middle order to provide good support to Glenn Maxwell.

The Aussies did have their chances in Chennai, but Virat Kohli’s team showed plenty of resilience to stage a remarkable recovery -first with the bat and later with the ball. Australian fielding too was not up to the mark. The story could well have been different had Smith held on to Hardik Pandya’s edge at first slip and Cartwright hit the  stumps with MS Dhoni stranded half-way down the pitch.

The Indian think-tank too have a dilemma -whether to continue to persist with Ajinkya Rahane to open the innings with Rohit Sharma or bring in KL Rahul.

It will be interesting to see how `Part-2′ of the battle between Kohli and Nathan Coulter-Nile unfolds. The Australian pacer sent Kohli packing in Chennai before the Indian captain could open his account in Chennai. He will surely relish the opportunity to have another go at Kohli at Eden where he had spewed venom in the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Coulter-Nile had decimated Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in KKR’s home game and sent them packing for just 49 runs on a pitch that was not much different to the one that is on offer for Thursday’s encounter even though the moisture underneath may rob it of some bounce and carry.

Kohli, on his part, had promised at the end of the first ODI that a course correction will be made so that the middle-order does not come under pressure. For someone who believes in walking the talk, one can rest assured that Kohli will be up for the challenge when he walks out to bat.

Source:- Times Of India

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