Rain threatens second Ind-Aus ODI

The second ODI between India and Australia at Kochi on Tuesday may also be at the mercy of the weather gods.

updated: October 01, 2007 14:42 IST
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The second ODI between India and Australia at Kochi on Tuesday may also be at the mercy of the weather gods.

It has been raining for the last few days in Kochi and a heavy shower on Monday forced the two teams to abandon their plans for a net practice at the ground, which has been left completely soggy.

With the met office predicting more rains, chances of any play being possible on Tuesday appear to be very bleak, giving sleepless nights to the Kerala Cricket Association which is toiling hard to keep the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in good condition for the match.

However, all their efforts may go in vain with the curator PV Ramachandran making it clear that even a couple of hours of downpour on the match day would be enough to force an abandonment.

However, if rain relents, spectators can expect fireworks at the ground, which has traditionally been lucky for India.

The hosts have a 4-1 win-loss record at the stadium and the only disappointment that the Indians have suffered was the loss to minnows Zimbabwe in 2000.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men would be hoping to make it 5-1 on Tuesday.

Key players injured

But the task is easier said then done as they battle injuries to some key players.

Sourav Ganguly is already out with a hamstring strain and spinner Harbhajan Singh is also battling a stiff neck. Robin Uthappa is also a doubtful starter because of injury.

The home side also has some serious thinking to do on their bowling attack, which let the Aussies off the hook after having them in trouble in the initial stage of the opener.

The visitors were choking at 90 for four before Michael Clarke turned the match in Australia's favour with his maiden ODI hundred against India.

The Indian bowlers, especially the spinners, were totally ineffective in the last 15 overs, and Clarke and Brad Haddin dispatched them all over the park with some sublime hits.

Ramesh Powar was ordinary in his last few overs though he started off quite well.

The pacers, though brilliant in their opening spells, came in for some spanking later on as the Australians scored more than 150 runs in the last 15 overs to take the team score to a massive 307.

S Sreesanth sprayed the ball all over the wicket and, in fact, bowled an extra over with his wides.

Although he scalped three wickets but the flamboyant pacer will have to show some control to be more effective.

"We have a problem, just a bit of a problem, when the ball doesn't do too much. The white Kookaburra (ball) doesn't do anything after 15-odd overs and we need to work hard on that," skipper Dhoni admitted.

On the batting front, a lot was expected of Sachin Tendulkar after his fine performance during the England tour but the Mumbai batsman was a disappointment, scoring a naught before the rain poured in.

Dominant Aussies

The Aussies, on the other hand, seem to be back in their groove after the Twenty20 World Cup debacle.

Apart from having Clarke and Haddin in form, the visitors are also likely to be boosted by skipper Ricky Ponting's return to the fold after he sat out of the first match with a hamstring strain.

"Two guys (Clarke and Haddin) had only been given an opportunity because of the injury troubles that we have got and that was fantastic," stand-in captain Adam Gilchrist has said in praise of the duo.

"The depth was challenged and we responded really well, it was frustrating there was no result but we responded in the 50 overs we were given," the wicket-keeper batsman said asserting that his side had the mental edge going into the second match.

The ODI world champions still have some issues to resolve going into the match.

The opening pair of Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden has been struggling for some time now, putting pressure on the middle-order.

Although it responded well to the added burden in Bangalore, but if Gilchrist and Hayden do not click in the coming matches, it may spell trouble for the Aussies.

The Australian bowlers did not get much of an opportunity in the first match, which was abandoned after just 2.4 overs of the Indian innings.

The war of words, meanwhile, continues and both the teams are promising to make up for the damp squib in Bangalore with some fireworks in Kochi.