On the verge of their first ODI series win under Virat Kohli, India take on England in the second match at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Thursday.
The hosts are 1-0 ahead in the three-match series, thanks to Sunday’s sensational win in Pune, and would want to keep the momentum going.
In their path to a strong build-up to the Champions Trophy at England in June, are Eoin Morgan’s boys, thinking what is a winning score? They thought 350 was enough, but were proven wrong even after India were four down in the first 12 overs.
Virat Kohli factor
If England need to rethink about Virat Kohli, Pune threw up another star in the making, Kedar Jadhav. While England kept revisiting their well-thought out plan to bounce out the new India skipper, to little effect, the 31-year-old Jadhav quietly, but reassuringly, took the match away with a double-century partnership.
“Virat has led by example. We all look up to him. The way he builds his innings, the way he handles situations. We learn a lot from him. The good thing is he doesn’t care much about individual achievements. He always wants to take the team along with him, constantly sharing his experiences and how he dealt with a particular situation. That helps us learn a lot,” India opener KL Rahul said at the pre-match media conference on Wednesday.
“That’s the sign of a great leader. Those of us who have played in the Test matches agree we all love playing under Virat. It’s good to have a young leader. Also with MS (Dhoni) in the team, he can guide Virat and that’s good for us,” he added.
After relinquishing captaincy, in the short time MS Dhoni was at the crease in Pune, one thing was clear. He is looking to explode as soon as possible now that a huge responsibility is off his shoulders.
The former skipper seemed eager to win back the finisher’s tag, and the placid Barabati Stadium wicket could just be the right platform to take off once again.
Eyes on Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh too goes in with a point to prove to himself. The selectors and Kohli have shown faith to bring him back. His record against England should give him confidence and so should the six over mid-wicket in Pune which gave glimpses of his old self.
Happy Hunting ground
A comeback from the Pune defeat would take some doing for England, especially on a ground where India have not lost an ODI since their defeat to New Zealand in November 2003.
India have played five matches since and one match was abandoned. Overall, India have played 15 matches here and won 11, losing only four.
Where England see a ray of hope is that India conceded more than 100 runs in the last nine overs in Pune. That should be a concern for Kohli as a repeat could reignite India’s issues at death bowling.