Having lost the first ODI from a seemingly winning position at Kanpur, India will be desperate to get things right in the second game, a day-night encounter at Indore. They cannot afford to go 0-2 down for teams rarely win five-match contests from that position. Also, India has only themselves to blame for the situation they find themselves in. Needing only 35 from the last four overs with plenty of wickets in hand, the match was theirs to lose at Kanpur, and they did. India must learn from their mistakes and set things right on Wednesday. As for South Africa, they might not even have dreamt of such a wonderful start to the tour, remaining unbeaten after three games, and would like to continue the same.
There are a couple of areas India need to have a closer look at. Death bowling is definitely one of them. In the opening match, they bowled easy length deliveries allowing AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardein to get under the ball, and smash it. Bhuvneshwar Kumar's place will be under the scanner for sure especially since he struggled in the T20s as well. Mohit Sharma, who also did not impress in the T20s, might get a chance. Stuart Binny also had a poor game, but replacing him will be tricky. They may either have to bring in Ambati Rayudu or Axar Patel. In the event of Ravichandran Ashwin being unavailable due to injury though, Binny might retain his spot.
Late order batting is also a concern for India. As mentioned earlier, India could not complete the basic task of finishing the game off with a couple of big hits after being in a comfortable position. MS Dhoni will be under pressure to deliver after failing in the previous game. But, there could be a rejig in the batting order as well. Ajinkya Rahane batted well in the last game, but there should be a rethink about batting him at three considering that he was slightly slow at Kanpur. Virat Kohli has been doing that job nicely, so there is every reason to give him his slot back. Dhoni could also bat higher up the order and set up an innings, while Suresh Raina could play the finisher.
One aspect which hasn't been spoken much about has been the lack of runs from the blade of opener Shikhar Dhawan. Of course, he is returning from injury and has been in a splendid form before that. But the good news for India is that the southpaw has looked in good touch even while not getting the big scores. India would be desperately hoping for a big knock from Dhawan. If he comes good, all the equations can be thrown out of the window. Apart from Ashwin's form, India will also be pleased with the manner in which Amit Mishra bowled at Kanpur. In case Ashwin is unfit at Indore, Mishra will be expected to take up the lead spinner's role.
South Africa, in contrast, are in a healthy space. They have won all the big moments for now. At Kanpur, de Villiers and Behardein took the game away from the Indians with their blistering knocks. Then, with the ball Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada stood up during the pressure moments. Both these phases were extremely crucial as far as the end result was concerned. What would please South Africa a lot would be the fact that they have maintained a winning streak without a big knock yet from Hashim Alma. The signs aren't great for India, and they will have to dig deep to pull off a win against this inspired South African side.
-- By A Cricket Analyst