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Another run-friendly wicket gives India the edge in Nagpur

Last updated on: December 17, 2009 22:05 IST

India hope to overcome bowling and fielding shortcomings



After the high-scoring humdinger in Rajkot, India hope to overcome their bowling and fielding shortcomings when they go into the second One-Day International against Sri Lanka in Nagpur on Friday, with Yuvraj Singh a doubtful starter.

Yuvraj sat out of the first game because of a finger injury and it remains to be seen whether the dashing left hander is fit enough to take the field in what promises to be another run-feast.

Both the teams are struggling with injuries, India having worries on the fitness of Yuvraj and the dangerous Virender Sehwag, who hurt his knee in the last game but is expected to play.

Sri Lanka will be without key spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and paceman Dilhara Fernando due to finger injuries, the duo ruled out of the rest of the series.

The Lankan team management has called up new players medium pacer Muthumudalige Pushpakumara and young off-spinner Suraj Randiv -- to bolster their bowling.

The visitors are hoping sling-arm bowler Lasith Malinga will be available to play after an indisposition kept him out of the Rajkot match.

Image: Coach Gary Kirsten and captain give the team fielding practice
Photographs: Reuters

Teams evenly matched

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The two teams were totally drained after playing out a heart-stopping and energy-sapping opening match at Rajkot, where the hosts just about managed to pull off a thrilling victory to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

The three-run margin of victory gives the right indication that the teams are evenly matched.

The playing surface in the Orange City is also expected to be batting-friendly. The match was shifted to Nagpur from Vishakapatnam due to security concerns.

In Rajkot it was Sehwag who stole the show for India with a career-best hundred (146) and spectacular pyrotechnics with the bat.

Splendid supporting roles were played by Sachin Tendulkar (69), with whom Sehwag put on 153 for the first wicket, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (72), who helped the Delhi dasher add 156 runs for the second wicket.

Image: Gautam Gambhir fine-tunes his skills with a baseball club

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Dew factor will be crucial

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Tillakaratne Dilshan provided the perfect riposte for the Lankans with his own highest-ever score, making a superb 160, and also put on potentially match-winning stands of 188 with Upul Tharanga (67) and 128 runs with skipper Kumar Sangakkara (90) for the first two wickets.

The encounter can become a bit tricky because of the cool weather and the dew factor that would come into effect as it is a day-night game.

Dew-fall is certainly going to make matters that much difficult for he side fielding second as the wet ball will make things a bit difficult for the bowlers.

The dew-kissed wicket will also help the ball skid rather than grip the surface, which would add to the bowlers' troubles.

While batting clicked for both the teams, the fielding -- especially the catching -- and the bowling came under severe pressure and once again this could turn out to be an important factor in the outcome.

Image: Sachin Tendulkar blows a kiss after scoring in a game of football during practice

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Lankans looking for improvement in the field

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The hosts dropped catches of all three top-order Lanka batsmen -- Dilshan, his fellow-opener Upul Tharanga and captain Kumar Sangakkara -- and were lucky these lapses did not result in a defeat.

Dhoni, who entered the record books by completing 200 victims in 152 ODIs in Rajkot as well as 5000 runs, is hoping for better fielding from his teammates.

Lanka too will be hoping for a better display on the field but they are certain to miss the tall Fernando and off-spin ace Muralitharan.

India's bowling woes continued in Rajkot though the wicket was so good for batting that they got very little help.

Praveen Kumar bowled well in the initial overs, Harbhajan Singh applied the breaks in the middle while Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan did well in the death.

Image: Kumar Sangakkara cuts off the top of the handle of his bat

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Batting power play a key area

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As Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss pointed out, it is not only by taking wickets that a team can win in ODIs but also by denying the rival batsmen the opportunity to hit them for fours and sixes, as Nehra and Khan showed.

The batting power play is also a key area, with both teams losing a clutch of wickets during this period.

The home team could have scored even higher than 414 had they not lost Sehwag, Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir during the batting power play.

The visitors would also have benefited had they not lost Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Dilshan at this stage after needing 123 runs in 90 balls at the start of their batting power play.

Teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Sudeep Tyagi and Virat Kohli.

Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (C), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilina Kandamby, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera, Upul Tharanga, Chanaka Welegedara, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara and Suraj Randiv.

Umpires: Shahvir Tarapore and Marais Erasmus.

Third umpire: Sanjay Hazare

Match referee: Jeff Crowe

Hours of play (IST): 1430 to 1800; 1845 till close.

Image: Spinner Ajantha Mendis at the nets

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