India vs Sri Lanka 2nd T20: Ranchi pitch has required Indian flavour that Dhoni craves for

India vs Sri Lanka 2nd T20 at RanchiAs Ranchi is all set to see its hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni play on his home turf in a must win match against Sri Lanka in the second T20 match of the three-match series on Friday, the pressure is firmly on India. According to a report in The Hindu, with India trailing in the three-match T20I series against a largely inexperienced Sri Lankan combination, the host has to simply play to its potential and make it 1-1 on Friday.

“With some of the leading Sri Lankans not in the squad, the visiting team’s bench strength came good at Pune where the Indian batting came a cropper. However, should Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men stay focused on making amends, there will only be one result possible. Such is the difference in the optimum playing strength of the teams,” says the report, adding that one look at the ground here at the JSCA Stadium — a late replacement for Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla — and the bald patches in the outfield stick out as an eyesore.

“In some places, there is less grass than what was seen on the pitch in Pune. In such a scenario and given the upcoming Asia Cup and World Cup, it should not come as a surprise if the fielders refrain from throwing themselves at each passing ball,” says the report.

A report in the Times of India also says that the wicket at JSCA International Cricket Stadium is, however, very different from the one in Pune. “It is also a pitch that has been prepared only after the tie was moved here from Ferozeshah Kotla. While it may prove more batsman-friendly than the former, it is the condition of the outfield that can have some serious impact on the game. The nature of the pitch should also lead to changes in the bowling line-up. While Dhoni went with two full-time pacers and a pace-bowling all-rounder (Hardik Pandya) in the last match and went to Ravichandran Ashwin only in the latter part of the Lankan innings, this pitch may prompt more stress on spinners. As a result, Pawan Negi could be considered in place of Pandya,” say the report.

According to a report in The Indian Express, spinners traditionally have done well at this venue. “R Ashwin has taken six wickets at 25.00 in two completed ODIs here, while Jadeja has four scalps at 18.75. This time also, the slow bowlers are expected to get some purchase. The JSCA Complex pitch has the required Indian flavour that Dhoni craves. Unlike Pune, it’s brown in colour and will play slower and lower. Negi has been included in the squad to fill the slot of an allrounder specifically in such conditions; when he could be more effective than Hardik Pandya,” says the report.

“In Indian conditions, if we want to play an extra spinner, then Negi could be used as a spin-bowling allrounder,” Dhoni had said a few days back. The practice pitches offered sharp turn and the captain might be tempted to change the team combination.