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Litmus test awaits India, MSD in 2nd ODI

Facing the toughest phase of his cricketing life, <g data-gr-id="48">an</g> <g data-gr-id="47">underfire</g> Mahendra Singh Dhoni will seek to revive his career and change the fortunes of a dispirited Indian team when the hosts take on an unbeaten South Africa in the second cricket one-dayer here on Wednesday.

With critics gunning for his head, Dhoni, in particular, finds himself in <g data-gr-id="55">very</g> challenging situation. The year 2015 has not been a particularly happy one for Dhoni after the semi-final loss in the World Cup.

The loss in the IPL final was followed by the humiliation in Bangladesh in the ODI series and the T20Is against Proteas proved to be yet another no-contest. His own form has been patchy and ‘Dhoni the batsman’ evidently does not strike fear in the hearts of bowlers <g data-gr-id="51">anymore</g>.

It seems Dhoni, the ultimate finisher, has lost somewhere. In the first ODI in Kanpur, it was an ideal platform for the Indian skipper to get back to his critics but he faltered in the botched chase.

With India needing 11 runs off the last over, the stage was set for Dhoni to finish off, as he has done many a times in the past, but the Captain Cool seemed to have lost his big-hitting skills and turned more into an accumulator. During his 30-ball 31, he struck just one boundary.

With the World T20 not too far away, time seems to be running out for Dhoni, the man once considered indispensable in limited overs formats.

Come Wednesday, the spotlight solely would be on Dhoni and his leadership skills and the remaining four matches of the ODI series will definitely be a test of character for the Indian captain.

As usual, Indian batting line-up is a formidable one with opener Rohit Sharma in <g data-gr-id="59">rollicking</g> form. After the sublime ton in the first T20I in Dharamsala, the Mumbai batsman struck a delightful 150 in the lost cause in Kanpur.

But Rohit’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan’s form is a cause of concern. He would be looking for a bagful of runs after failing in the T20s and then the first ODI.

Returning to the side, Ajinkya Rahane, however, proved his worth with a vital 60 in Kanpur and would be looking to carry forward his good form.

But Dhoni s heir apparent Virat Kohli would be hoping for runs and going by his lofty standards, he would like to take on the challenge against tough opponents like the Proteas to stamp his class once again.

Serious questions marks are also on Suresh Raina and the abilities of Stuart Binny as an all-rounder.
But the thing which will worry Dhoni, the captain, most is the performance of his bowlers and the absence of is ‘go to man’ Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been effectively ruled out of the series with a side strain suffered during the Kanpur match.

The pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and comeback man Umesh Yadav looked ordinary in front of AB de Villiers and Co. while Binny as usual has failed to prove his worth with the ball as well.

De Villiers, who powered South Africa past the 300-run mark in Kanpur with a 73-ball unbeaten 104, went hammer and tongs as Indian bowlers bled more than 100 runs in the last 10 overs in the first ODI.

The only saving grace for Dhoni and Indian has been the spin duo of Ashwin and leggie Amit Mishra, but with Ashwin now out of at least first three ODIs, this department has also taken a severe beating.

Ashwin s place in the playing eleven is likely to be replaced by veteran Harbhajan Singh, who has been called into the ODI side. 

Proteas plan to get Rohit out in first 10 balls
Indore: Unbeaten in the tour they might be, but Indian batsman Rohit Sharma’s form is giving South Africa sleepless nights and the Proteas are planning to get the marauding right-hander out of their way in the first 10 balls itself in the second ODI here on Wednesday.

Aware of Rohit’s destructive abilities, South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt is busy working out a plan to dismiss the Indian batsman early. “At the moment he (Rohit) is really batting well. He bats well in Indian conditions. He is a great player. The first 10 balls to him are important. You need to try and get him out in the first 10 balls. We will probably look to bowl the glory ball. He is one of those players who kicks on if he gets past 20,” <g data-gr-id="101">Langeveldt</g> told reporters in the pre-match press conference at the Holkar Stadium here on Tuesday.

Happy with South Africa’s performance so far in the tour, Langeveldt said adaptability is key to success for any team in Indian conditions. “So far it has been great. We had three wins. In the last 10 overs (in <g data-gr-id="114">Kanpur)</g> we were looking down the barrel but we did very well to come over the line and win the game,” the former Protea fast bowler said.

“The tour is still very long. We had just three <g data-gr-id="120">wins</g> but India is a strong team. In <g data-gr-id="119">India</g> you will go for runs so the main thing is always to compete. We need to compete in every ball. If you go for 6 in one ball then you should compete in the next ball. These are not easy conditions to bowl at. So if we are competing in every ball there is a good chance, we might win the game,” said Langeveldt, who replaced Allan Donald  as South Africa’s bowling coach.

Can’t commit mistakes often if we want to be No.1: Rohit
Indore: Consistency is key to any team’s success and opening batsman Rohit Sharma on Tuesday asserted that India cannot afford to commit small mistakes often if they aspire to be the numero uno cricket team in the world.

Currently ranked No. 2 in ODIs, India snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the One-day series opener in Kanpur by succumbing to a close five-run loss against South Africa in a high-scoring affair.
Rohit said although India’s death bowling and match finishing abilities were a concern, the players are mature enough to make a comeback in the series.

“Things like this can <g data-gr-id="177">happen</g> but there are no excuses. We want to strive hard as a team. If we want to be the No.1 team we cannot commit these kinds of mistakes. I hope we won’t keep repeating the same mistakes, that’s what a champion side doesn’t do. We all are mature enough to <g data-gr-id="175">go handle</g> such situations,” Rohit Sharma, who struck a swashbuckling 150 in India’s losing cause in the first ODI,” said.

Indian bowlers bled runs at the death, giving away more than 100 runs in the last 10 overs with South Africa ODI skipper AB de Villers going hammer and tongs.

Asked Rohit about India’s bowling woes, he said Umesh Yadav and Co. need to be smart and proactive against destructive batsmen like De Villiers.

“It’s (death bowling) a concern, there is no doubt about it. We cannot run away from that but when you are bowling to a player like De Villiers you need to be extra smart, and be more proactive. It’s a <g data-gr-id="178">concern</g> but all the bowlers are working on it. In the last few games, not only against South Africa but in Bangladesh and Australia as well we made small, small mistakes in the last five overs,” he said.

While he himself has been in <g data-gr-id="174">rollicking</g> form of late, his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan is going through a lean patch, but Rohit feels the left-hander will come good soon.

“Shikhar was the highest run getter for us in the World Cup. He was the highest run getter in Bangladesh. A couple of games shouldn’t be a worry,” Rohit said. 
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