Rahul's batting position in focus as buoyant India look to seal series against Windies
Focus will be on vice-captain K L Rahul's batting position on his return from a short break as a buoyant India aim for another demolition act against the West Indies in the second ODI to seal the three-match series here on Wednesday.
The India spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar ran riot as they shot out West Indies for a meagre 176 and then skipper Rohit Sharma bossed the chase with a blistering 60, as the hosts recorded an easy six-wicket win in the lung-opener at the Motera.
Infused with new energy under Rohit, India looked a completely overhauled unit after being whitewashed in South Africa and the team would certainly want to continue from where it left of on Sunday night.
The biggest positive for India is that Rohit, who had missed the South Africa series due to a hamstring injury, was in brilliant form on comeback.
He would be raring to take the listless West Indies attack to cleaners once again. Ditto for Ishan Kishan, who opened with Rohit in the first ODI, and did a decent job with a 36-ball 28.
But with Rahul being available from this game onwards, it remains to be seen whether the wristy Karnataka batter opens along with the skipper or plays in the middle order on a relatively slow track. Rahul skipped the first ODI for a personal engagement.
If he opens the batting, then Jharkhand dasher Kishan will have to make way for the senior batter.
If Rahul bats in the middle order then debutant Deepak Hooda, who played his part to perfection in the first game with an unbeaten 26 off 32 deliveries, might have to sit out as the team cannot afford to tinker with the rest of the middle-order comprising heavyweights Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav.
The game is also crucial for Kohli, who is enduring a lean patch and would like to get that 71st hundred that has been in waiting for over two years.
The hosts, if they bat first, would certainly also like to set a target, as they build up for next year's World Cup.
On the bowling front, India dished out a clinical show as the spin duo of Chahal and Washington ran through an unimpressive West Indies line-up.
The team management is unlikely to make any changes to the bowling attack.
But it remains to be seen if one of the two tweakers is dropped and left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who is also waiting in the wings, makes his way into the playing XI.
The West Indies, on the other hand, will look to forget the hammering and eye improved show in an all the departments, especially batting.
Sunday was the 10th time in the last 16 games that West Indies failed to bat a full 50 overs.
The Kieron Pollard-led side needs to get that aspect sorted and as pointed out by experienced all-rounder Jason Holder, the batters need to put a bigger prize on their wicket.
"We got to dig deeper. I don't think we are too far off to be fair. Our top-order just needs to go a little deeper, put a heavier prize on their wicket, and just get themselves a really good chance," Holder had said.
The team from the Caribbean also possesses hard-hitters including Nicolas Pooran and Pollard and can take any good attack to the cleaners. They would be hoping that Wednesday would be that day.
Their bowlers, save Alzarri Joseph, were taken to task by the Indian batters, especially Rohit, and they would like to come afresh and bowl in the right areas.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Shahrukh Khan.
West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Nicolas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Romario Shepard, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr.
Match starts at 1.30 PM.