India have got the confidence booster they were looking for with a thumping win in the opener in Hyderabad. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back leading from the front, his gamble once again proving decisive.
He led a late charge to get his team to 300 with a smashing, unbeaten 87, and his opting to bat on a wicket that deteriorated in the evening with no dew around proved crucial in India's return to winning ways after a series of defeats in England. Even bringing in Virat Kohli to bowl between Powerplays looked spot on, the right-arm gentle floaters turning out to be the most economic, albeit for only three overs.
As England prepared on Sunday afternoon to get back in the five-match series, Steve Finn running in to bowl yorkers and slower deliveries to an imaginary batsman in the form of a bamboo pole placed parallel to the batting crease, and Jonathan Bairstow trying to clear the ropes off throw-downs from Jonathan Trott, the visitors once again wore the underdog tag.
Spin had proved to be the decisive factor in Hyderabad, more precisely the England batsmen's inability to handle the tweakers. At the Ferozshah Kotla on Monday, it could once again play a vital role. Much will depend on the England batsmen's will to grind it out on a wicket that promises to be slow.
The evening chill is likely to induce dew in the second session. This would make the toss important as both sides are likely to go in with largely unchanged teams.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, against whom the England batsmen looked the most uncomfortable because of his slightly side-arm action, and off-spinner R Ashwin’s ability to operate with the new ball and during Powerplays will make the Indian duo a potent threat considering England's inclination to sweep, on a wicket that is likely to offer very little bounce.India's sole concern will be over the start Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel can provide. But much shorter boundaries here could give them even lesser gaps to place the ball and rotate the strike, something they failed to do in Hyderabad when the England new-ball bowlers offered very little width.
Both local boys Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli will hope to thrive in familiar conditions, more so after they failed to capitalise on the starts they got in the opener.
Between Suresh Raina and Dhoni, at least one should look to stay on even after the Powerplays get over. The runs India scored courtesy Dhoni and Jadeja in the last 10 overs in Hyderabad left the visitors demoralised as they chased the big total.
It seems unlikely that the England skipper Alastair Cook would press the panic button and bring in more experience in their middle order by including Ian Bell.
If Bell does play, there is a possibility he could replace Jonathan Trott or even Kevin Pietersen. Leg-spinner Scott Borthwick, who took five wickets in the only warm-up match he played in Hyderabad, was one of the talking points. But left-arm spinner Samit Patel's prowess with the bat should help him retain his slot.