Concerned by a couple of injuries, an otherwise buoyant Team India will look to give a much-anticipated ODI debut to the exciting Suryakumar Yadav and may recall Rishabh Pant in the quest to clinch the ODI series when Kohli and Co. take on England in the second ODI at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Friday.
England, too, have been badly hit by injuries. With their captain Eoin Morgan (split webbing) and Sam Billings (bruised left collar bone) ruled out from the series, England will be led in the remaining two games by wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler. As a result, they have drafted in Dawid Malan, the world’s No. 1 batsman in T20Is, in the ODI squad.
Having already impressed in the T20Is with quickfire knocks of 57 and 32, Yadav will be keen to make an impactful start in his ODI career too. ‘Surya’ is likely to get a chance after another Mumbai batsman, Shreyas Iyer hurt his shoulder badly while fielding in the opening game. Pant, on the other hand, could earn an ODI comeback if India decide to rest vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who was struck by a Mark Wood 148 kph scorcher on Tuesday.
The Delhi wicketkeeper’s stock has been rising steadily since he enjoyed a magnificent tour of Australia and was amplified by the match-winning hundred on a difficult surface in the fourth Test against England in Ahmedabad. Rested from the opener, Pant’s return to the ODI fold will complete his resurgence from a point when he was dropped from all limited-overs teams due to fitness and form issues.
If Rohit misses this game, KL Rahul, who played in the middle order in the first game, will go back to his original opening spot, partnering with Shikhar Dhawan, who slammed 98 in the opening game. Despite being benched after just the first game in the T20I series, Dhawan showed no signs of rust.
India will also be mighty pleased with how two debutants, Krunal Pandya (58*) and Prasidh Krishna (4-54) played a key role in their convincing 66-run win in the first game, which gave them a 1-0 lead in the series. Apart from the debutants shining, India were also bolstered by the fine show of their experienced players.
He may not have appreciated the timing of this series, but skipper Virat Kohli chipped in with 56. With his match-turning 43-ball 62 at No.5, Rahul showed that it won’t be easy to keep him out of the ODI side yet. In the pace-bowling department, Bhuvneshwar Kumar stood out as the best bowler on either side, going for just 30 in nine overs, while picking two wickets in a game where almost all the bowlers got stick. The spirited Shardul Thakur showed again that he has the happy knack of picking up wickets with his clever variations.
The only concern for India is the poor form of chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who looked short on confidence while leaking 68 in nine overs without picking a wicket. England, on the other hand, will be badly hampered by the absence of Morgan and Billings, though Malan’s addition will help. One of the openers must get a big score, and it is time Stokes and Buttler do justice to their massive reputations.