In Visakhapatnam,when it rains,it generally pours. But so fickle is the weather in the eastern port city otherwise that even locals think twice before making assertive predictions about it. Not always is it safe to bank on the official weather reports in these parts either.
And for the last few weeks,K Nagamallaih has been busy browsing through the internet in search of the most accurate forecast regarding the rain and cyclone Helen,which was expected to hit Visakhapatnam. If nothing but to calm his own nerves regarding the second India-West Indies ODI set to be played at the YSR Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium. The heavy showers just two days prior to the match didnt help the chief curators anxiety. And Nagamallaih,who couldnt sleep all night on Friday,claims to have been prepared for the worst.
He had even called upon the Andhra Pradesh Cricket Association to provide his team with extra covers so that they could have the whole ground under wraps. Then luckily for Nagamallaih,the sun was out on Saturday morning to belie some of his fears. Also the fact that Helen passed the coastal town without causing much damage to the pitch and the ground itself. The fickleness of the Vizag weather had intervened yet again. This time to the delight of those looking forward eagerly to the much-anticipated ODI on Sunday.
Speaking of inconsistency,nobody epitomized it as much as Rohit Sharma did with bat in hand till a few months ago. His promotion to the top of the order in ODIs did seem to settle the talented Mumbai right-hander. But he still remained prone to the soft dismissal,the irresponsible shot and the inability to convert a fluent start. Then came the Australia series and the beginning of Sharmas golden run. A rebirth of sorts of the one many thought would remain a squandered talent.
His last eight scores in international cricket read 141 not out,11,9 not out,79,209,177,111 not out and 72. But while Sharmas record-breaking 491 runs against Australia was looked at as his coming of age,the success against the West Indians wouldnt have taken too many by surprise-even if they came in his first two outings in the Test arena.
The men from the Caribbean have after all always been among his favourite opponents. And more than once,theyve been responsible for bringing him back to form. Twice against the West Indies in 2011,following the disappointment of being left out of the World Cup squad,Sharma ended up with the man of the series trophy and added one more later.
And in addition to his 72 at Kochi in the first ODI,he has now 807 runs in just 18 ODIs at an average of 62.07 against the West Indians,including nine of his 20 half-centuries in the format. Presently,the 26-year-old opener has also scored more runs than anyone else in ODI cricket with 1143 runs at 60.15.
The talent has finally found its way through,six years after it showed promise of doing so.
Alongside the flamboyant Shikhar Dhawan,he has had the luxury of allowing himself time at the start before going into overdrive in the latter half of his innings. And hes made the most of it. To the extent that he seemed almost nonchalant while leading Indias relatively comfortable run-chase at the Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
The hapless West Indians can only hope to put up a better show with the bat,something theyve struggled to since the start of the Test series. And now with no Chris Gayle,the onus will be on the lesser lights in the middle-order to prop up their deflated egos.
For Sharma,it will be another outing to build on his incredible run against a team that hes bullied repeatedly. He wont be the only Indian batsman keyed up for Sundays outing though.
Virat Kohli has always made an impression at the ACA-VDCA stadium,having scored a century in each of the two ODIs hes played here previously-against Australia and the West Indies. It was here in 2010 that Dhawan began his ODI career in the most forgettable of fashions,lasting only one minute at the crease and facing two balls for a duck.
Three years on,he returns as one of the most dominant openers in ODI cricket. And the Delhi left-hander will be desperate to set the record straight just as keen as Nagamallaih & Co will be to see their venue lit up with destructive stroke-play rather than have unforeseen showers spoil their preparation.
Selectors to meet on Monday
The selection committee will meet in Baroda on Monday to pick the squads for India’s tour of South Africa. Both ODI and Test squads are likely to be picked,though the BCCI is yet to decide if the sides strength would be 15 or 16. The meeting was scheduled for Sunday but has been moved by a day as the selectors wanted to meet after this round of Ranji Trophy matches were over”.