England should be heading to Kochi in confident mood after claiming their first ODI win away to India since April 2006. India, on the other hand, must be licking their wounds after throwing away what really should have been a straightforward victory in Rajkot.
With the score at 271-5 in the 45th over, skipper MS Dhoni should have seen his side to the 326 run target, but after he threw his wicket away his side stuttered to a nine-run defeat. India had earlier leaked 38 runs in the final two overs of the England innings, which cost Dhoni and his side dear.
Despite the narrow nature of their win, England must be happy with the balance of this experimental side, with everyone contributing in their Rajkot win. A strong top order performance was ably supported by some impressive late hitting by Samit Patel and Craig Kieswetter, before James Tredwell produced a match-winning 4-44 to support the seamers on a pitch that offered them nothing.
With no injuries reported after their opening win I cannot foresee any changes to the England line-up. The likes of Danny Briggs, Stuart Meaker and Chris Woakes will likely be given their chance at some point in this series but for now they must be content with carrying the drinks as Ashley Giles’ side look to build on their opening victory.
After falling just a handful of runs short in Rajkot you wouldn’t expect India to be making many changes for Kochi. Ishant Sharma is one man who could be vulnerable after he was dispatched for 86 runs in his 10 overs but with no-one better in reserve an unchanged line-up wouldn’t be a surprise.
Another batting paradise is expected at the Nehru stadium so scores in excess of 300 will again just be considered the par. Flat pitches and fast outfields are the norm in India so spin will again be key for the skippers if they hope to retain a modicum of control in these run fests.
With Ian Bell top scoring in the opener I just about covered my bets despite Suresh Raina and India both coming up just short. I think this young England side performed at their very best to just nick the opening ODI so I will once again side with India for the win at 1.70. With Bell due a failure after three classy knocks on tour thus far, I am going to side with Kevin Pietersen to top score for England after he hit a fine run-a-ball 44 in Rajkot. For India, we cannot ignore the value of Suresh Raina at 7.0; the 26-year-old hit a slick half century in the opener and with him slated to come in at five I think this is too good a value to pass up.