Kochi: Another benign surface awaits India and England when the two teams meet in the second one-day international of the five-match series here on Tuesday. Like the first match in Rajkot, where England pummeled 325 before restricting India to 316 for 9, the wicket at the Nehru Stadium is also expected to favour the batsman from the beginning.
In the first game, England showed the same discipline and intent which they displayed throughout this tour - in Tests and Twenty20s. Each member seemed to have known his role in the team. While Ian Bell has vindicated the team management's decision to allow him to open the batting, Alastair Cook is replicating his Test form into the 50-over format with each innings. In Kevin Pietersen, they have a No. 3 who can carry on with the platform set by the openers, while Eoin Morgan has built up a reputation of a finisher. After his cameo on Friday, Samit Patel too has given the selectors a reason to stick with him for some more time.
The English bowlers also looked far more penetrating than their Indian counterparts. Their quicks had better variations, while the offspinner James Tredwell could have given a lesson or two to R Ashwin on how to take wickets and check the flow of runs.
On the other hand, India have to sort out a few things in both batting and bowling. In spite of good starts, none of their batsmen went on to make a big score. All except one, Virat Kohli, looked in good touch. Barring a hundred in Nagpur, he has made a string of low scores so far.
And if one goes by form alone, then Kohli should make way for Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been in great nick. The Saurashtra batsman, although he didn't play the Rajkot ODI, is coming into the series after a double-century against Madhya Pradesh and a triple against Karnataka in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. Pujara could play the anchor role at No. 3.
It's also hard to see Ishant Sharma getting another game, having leaked 86 runs in the first match. He, along with Ashok Dinda, was ordinary and taken to task by the English batsmen. One of them should be replaced by Shami Ahmed, who was impressive in his debut against Pakistan. It is also the time when the Indian selectors should take a call on Ashwin, who looked jaded and ineffective. Some rest might help him to get his rhythm back.
India: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara/Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin/Amit Mishra, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Shami Ahmed, 11 Ashok Dinda
England: 1 Ian Bell, 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Root, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9James Tredwell, 10 Jade Dernbach, 11 Steven Finn