Cuttack, Jan 18:
After guiding India to a thrilling three-wicket win against England in his maiden One-day International (ODI) as full-time skipper, Virat Kohli will be aiming to clinch the three-match series by grabbing the second ODI too here on Thursday.
Kohli and wicketkeeper-batsman Kedar Jadhav smashed brilliant centuries to forge a 200-run fifth-wicket stand and helped the hosts chase down the stiff 351-run target with 11 balls to spare in the first match in Pune on Sunday.
Going by the last Ranji Trophy match between Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir on the same strip at the Barabati Stadium, where Haryana scored 502 in their first innings, the India-England tie promises to be another run-feast.
The toss could also be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the match, given the dew factor at this time of the year and both the captains will be looking to bat second.
Though India got over the line in the first ODI despite 63 for 4 at one stage, thanks to Kohli and Jadhav’s heroics, the men-in-blue will be hoping to get a good start from their opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul.
Comeback man Yuvraj Singh and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will also need to step up and give Kohli company in the middle order while Jadhav and all-rounder Hardik Pandya are already in good nick.
In the bowling department, India will be hoping for an improved performance from premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who went wicketless and leaked 63 runs from his 8 overs in the match.
Pacers Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya have done a decent job while left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was also amongst the wicket-takers in the first game.
On the other hand, all the English batsman managed to get starts in the first game, with opener Jason Roy (73), Joe Root (78) and Ben Stokes (62) getting to their respective half centuries.
Barring Root, who consumed 95 deliveries, all the others scored at run-a-ball or took lesser deliveries for their scores and the No.3 batsman will now need to live up to the intensity of the format.
Their bowling department has once again been at the receiving end of Kohli’s batting prowess, and as pacer Jake Ball suggested, England will be aiming to pitch more short stuff to the Indian captain.
While England bowlers will be targetting at getting the back of Kohli, dark horses like Jadhav still can take the game away from their grasp if they continue to focus on individuals and not the top six Indian batsmen.
After Cuttack, both the teams will be heading to Kolkata for the final ODI, which will be played at the Eden Gardens on January 22.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Lokesh Rahul, Umesh Yadav.
England: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes.