Chennai: The victory in the second Twenty20 in Ahmedabad has given India the momentum going into the first of three one-day internationals against Pakistan in Chennai on Sunday. Their batsmen got runs, while the bowlers picked up wickets under pressure. It was a win that MS Dhoni desperately needed, especially after the twin defeats in the previous T20s.
India are not expected to tinker too much with their team composition, with the only exceptions of adding Virender Sehwag at the top and dropping an extra batsman for a specialist spinner. That brings Amit Mishra, who was picked for the ODIs along with Bengal pacer Shami Ahmed, into the picture. And with the Chepauk pitch expected to provide some assistance for spinners, his selection will give Dhoni variety at his disposal.
But who should India drop to include Sehwag? Ajinkya Rahane didn't get a fifty in the T20s, but was impressive at the top. And even if Sehwag is brought in place of Rohit Sharma, where would he bat? Like always, at the top with Gautam Gambhir, with Rahane coming at No. 3? This could be something India will grapple with ahead of the clash.
There is an extra incentive for India going into the first game. Victory on Sunday will put them at the top of the rankings, while a 3-0 clean sweep will firm their grip on that position. But if they go down in any of the encounters, they will have to be satisfied with No. 3, the position they are at presently.
Pakistan have completely revamped their squad for the ODIs. Misbah-ul-Haq will lead the team, with the seasoned Younis Khan and T20 skipper Mohammad Hafeez providing strength to their batting. Top-order batsman Imran Farhat has also been brought in along with young Azhar Ali. Left-hander Haris Sohail, who has caught the eye of many with his batting skills in Pakistan lately, may also find a place. Left-arm pacers Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan and right-arm medium Anwar Ali will vie for the vacant spots left by Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Irfan.
With nine of the 14 matches at Chepauk having been won by sides which batted first after winning the toss, both teams will hope to make good use of the pitch by posting a stiff total for the opposition. But weather may play spoilsport as rain is predicted on Sunday. Both the teams also cancelled their practice sessions on Saturday.
India: 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ajinkya Rahane/ Rohit Sharma/Amit Mishra 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ashok Dinda, 11 Ishant Sharma
Pakistan: 1 Imran Farhat, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal/Haris Sohail, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Umar Gul, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan/Anwar Ali