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Millennium Post

India look to avenge loss

India will have to quickly plug their batting shortcomings and pick the right team composition when they go into the second and last Twenty20 International against archrivals Pakistan on Friday, hoping to level the two match series 1-1.

India suffered a five-wicket drubbing in the series opener in Bangalore after a middle-order collapse, which saw the hosts struggle to 130 for nine after being 90 for two at one stage.

The hosts desperately need to win the second game to level the series and the pressure will be on captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men to deliver the goods when it matters the most.

Apart from Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajinkya Rahane (42), all the other batsmen failed to apply themselves when confronted against a strong bowling attack spearheaded by the experienced Umar Gul.

In fact, all-rounder Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were the only ones other than the openers to have reached the double figures.

India would need the likes of Virat Kohli, Dhoni, Yuvraj and Rohit Sharma to regroup and fire in unison against the traditional rivals who are also equally determined to clinch the T20 series. The bowling also remains a persistent headache for the Indians. Except for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who finished with impressive figures of three for nine in his debut game, none of the other bowlers could trouble the Pakistani batsmen.

Ashok Dinda, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja all struggled to get wickets or even check the flow of runs.

The decision to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin in the last match was seen as a move that worked in Pakistan’s favour and Dhoni might be tempted to play him in the must-win tie.

The Indians had opted to go in with three specialist seamers in the last match and it will be interesting to see whether they go in with the same strategy or include a spinner.

Dhoni’s decision to go in with Jadeja ahead of Ashwin also drew criticism. “Ashwin was not there in this team. So our plan was that if we play out the new ball, then their spinners are not world-class; I know Yuvraj is in great form, but when you don’t have a world- class spinner then we can dominate,” Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez had said.

Besides, innumerable chances given to Sharma has also been the talking point and the Indian think-tank may have a lot of work to do before they settle for the playing XI for the match.

It will be interesting to see if a chance is given to Ambati Rayudu, considering his past performances in this format of the game.

Pakistan, on the other hand, lived up to their reputation of a strong bowling unit with three specialist pacers Gul, Sohail Tanvir and debutant Mohammad Irfan wrecking havoc on a pace-friendly Chinnaswamy track.

They would look to carry on the momentum on Friday also though the Sardar Patel track may not give them much assistance.

The visitors’ batting, however, has been a cause of concern for them with openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad struggling to provide a platform during their run chase at Bangalore and will look to do well.
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