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Sehwag fit for 2nd ODI as India look to seal series

February 23, 2010 12:55 IST

After escaping with a narrow win in Jaipur, India would aim to plug their bowling loopholes and seal the three-match series to retain the number two spot in ICC rankings when they take on South Africa in the second ODI in Gwalior on Wednesday.

Virender SehwagThe Indian batsmen are in good nick but the worrying factor for the hosts is the bowling department as they leaked too many runs in the series opener and received an unexpected bashing at the hands of tail-enders Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell in Jaipur.

Due to a sore back, Virender Sehwag did not field in the first match but India is not in danger of missing his services as the team management has hinted that there is nothing serious.

What looked like a one-sided contest in India's favour at one stage became an edge-of-the-seat thriller as the host bowlers lost their grip over the match with their wayward line. India, though, managed to pull off a one-run win, the closest of victory margins.

It was a psychological blow for the South Africans, who have been labelled chokers for losing close matches on a regular basis, but they are expected to come hard at the Indians in Wednesday's do-or-die tie at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium.

They failed to dislodge India from the number one spot in Test rankings after losing the Kolkata Test, so the Proteas would do everything to give themselves a chance to at least snatch back the number two position in the One-Day rankings.

The team which wins this series will end the year as number two behind world champions Australia.

India's gamble of playing only three specialist bowlers - all pacers - paid off in Jaipur, but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni must be scratching his head while weighing his options for the 2nd ODI on Wednesday.

India do not have much of a choice in the absence of Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, and Dhoni is most likely to go with the same combination.

He will hope that part-timers Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan would yet again contribute in stifling the South African innings and the pace trio of Ashish Nehra, Praveen Kumar and S Sreesanth will put up a better show.

Sreesanth was off colour in Jaipur and it remains to be seen if the team management retains him or calls up Uttar Pradesh paceman Sudeep Tyagi.

Since Jadeja and Pathan have done well, leg-spinner Amit Mishra is unlikely to get a call up.

As the curator has predicted a batting paradise for the match, Indian batsmen would aim to convert good starts into big knocks.

Putting up a big total, by batting first, is the only way to put pressure on South Africa and the tried and tested opening pair of Sehwag along with Sachin Tendulkar will be key to India's plan.

For South Africa, the swashbuckling opening pair of Loots Bosman and Herschelle Gibbs has to strike form for the visitors.

The ever-reliable stand-in skipper Jacques Kallis is a solid pillar in the visitors middle-order and can shape the innings quite well but he needs support at the other end to make his innings count.

History favours the hosts at this venue since out of nine matches played here, seven have resulted in victory for India.

The Teams (from):

India: M S Dhoni (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Sudeep Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Abhishek Nayar, Yusuf Pathan and Amit Mishra.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Loots Bosman, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers Jean-Paul Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Roelof van der Merwe.

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