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India vs West Indies 2nd ODI: India look to bounce back

A series initially considered fertile ground for experimenting before the World Cup for India, it has transformed into a keen contest after West Indies demolished the hosts in the first ODI.

cricket Updated: Oct 11, 2014 09:33 IST
Sourya Chowdhury

"Life is fickle," pronounced the senior DDCA official, adding, "cricket, much more so." He was of course speaking about the glorious rise and the current struggles of Virat Kohli, who returns to his home turf on Saturday, facing a crisis of confidence.

A series initially considered fertile ground for experimenting before the World Cup for India, the defending champions, it has transformed into a keen contest after West Indies brushed aside all their off-field problems to demolish the hosts in the first ODI. The manner of the result was unforeseen before the series began.

The Kohli narrative almost matches the main story, slipping deeper into uncertainty caused by failures against the swinging delivery in England.

Form reversal

On Friday morning, as the hosts trained ahead of the second ODI at the Ferozeshah Kotla, Kohli was among the first batsmen to pad up. How vital Kohli is to India's World Cup title defence and the Australia tour preceding that could be seen from the attention coach Duncan Fletcher gave him. Even captain MS Dhoni had a long chat with him.

As Kohli took guard, Fletcher shouted instructions about his stance. "Two legs." The batsman adjusted, looking up for confirmation. Characteristic cover drives received vociferous encouragement from the coach, who asked Kohli to adjust his stance again.

He batted and batted, and when he switched nets, Fletcher too shifted his position. He then faced knock-downs from Sanjay Bangar, mostly angled into middle and leg.

Kohli's frailties in the corridor of uncertainty in England are well documented, but the Indian management possibly detected another weakness, against the incoming delivery. One of these knock-downs rattled Kohli's stumps. The man with an average of 50.80 in ODIs shook his head before retrieving the ball. Bangar wore a frown. Is Delhi still far away? India would hope not.

Ending wait

Amidst the hullabaloo over Kohli there was another batsman who was in his familiar surroundings. Shikhar Dhawan will finally make his international debut at the Kotla. He should have played the final Test here against Australia early last year but for a hand injury he suffered in debut match in Mohali after scoring a sensational century.

"I was telling my friends this is a dream-come-true," Shikhar said. "I have played Ranji cricket here for 7 or 8 years but this is my first opportunity to turn out in international colours in front of the Delhi crowd. I'm really excited."

The left-hander too was trapped in failures in England and was dropped for the final Test. He has since resurrected himself in the shorter format. "A few failures actually help me succeed in many more innings. If you do not taste failures, how will you learn to enjoy successes?" Dhawan joked.

There is a forced change in the squad. Mohit Sharma has been ruled out of the series due to a shin injury and has been replaced by Ishant Sharma, who last played an ODI in New Zealand in January. So, Umesh Yadav could come into the eleven. Leggie Amit Mishra is expected to keep his place although he proved expensive in the first game.

West Indies revelled in Kochi despite their internal strife. India will look to ensure their concerns don't grow into a major worry.