After the unexpected reverse in the first one-dayer at Kochi, India should be pleased with their comeback in the second game at Delhi. Although it wasn't a convincing performance by any standards, India should be happy to get a win under their belt. With the cancellation of the third ODI due to Cyclone Hudhud, the gap between two matches has become longer than expected. The rest period can benefit both sides. While it would have provided West Indies with an opportunity to look back at where they went wrong, India would also have got time to sit back and rejuvenate.
Now that India have levelled the series, they should look to carry on with the good work. They began the series as favourites and anything less than a 3-1 triumph would be a disappointment. But, they shouldn't be looking too far ahead just of now. Their first aim should be to ensure that they claim a win on Friday so that they can take a lead from where they cannot go down in the series even if they lose the last match of the series. India still need to make significant improvements in their game before heading to Australia. In view of the same, the remaining two games are extremely important.
India's batting has been surprisingly below par in the first two matches, and they would ideally like to set things straight in the fourth match. Shikhar Dhawan got a half-century in the opening game, but it wasn't a controlled innings. And his cheap dismissal in the second game again raised question marks over his technique. Ajinkya Rahane, his opening partner, too is due for a big score. The decision to send Ambati Rayudu in at number three worked partly. Rayudu got a start, but could not carry on. The talented batsman is getting into a habit of giving away starts. He needs to convert them into bigger scores.
Virat Kohli, who was demoted to number four in the innings, made good use of the opportunity. With the ball moving less, he ended up scoring a hard fought half-century. While the knock would have pleased the Indians, Kohli himself would have liked to have carried on for longer. He has been going through a lean patch for a decent amount of time, and had a chance to get a big one. But, India should be happy that he at least got some runs on the board. Half-centuries by Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni in the second match also played its role in India's win.
Importantly, India showed massive improvements in the bowling department as well. Mohammad Shami claimed four wickets for the second match in a row, but his performance at Delhi was a lot more nuanced. If Shami can carry on his good form, India should do well in the bowling department. Leggie Amit Mishra also came back very well after the poor showing at Kochi. With Ravindra Jadeja also chipping in, India came up with a complete performance at Delhi. Fans would be keen for an encore.
--By A Cricket Analyst