Kolkata, Jan 2: History is against Team India at Eden Gardens. They have not beaten Pakistan in previous three One Day Internationals since 1987. So, on Thursday, MS Dhoni and his men will have to alter that record to stay alive in the three-match series against the arch rivals.
Pakistan, leading 1-0, could not have asked for a better venue to be in. Eden Gardens has proved them lucky and they will be hoping to clinch a rare series win in India at this iconic stadium.
Indian batsmen, having been sent packing cheaply by the left-arm pace of Pakistan in Chennai, will have to bounce back quickly in their first match of 2013. They ended 2012 on a losing note in the first ODI despite a brilliant hundred by Dhoni.
It will be yet again the battle between India batsmen versus Pakistan bowlers, fast men in particular. Left-armers Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan wrecked havoc in early overs to reduce India to a shameful 29/5 in less than 10 overs in Chennai. Without Dhoni's brilliance with the bat, the scorecard would have looked uglier.
This day/night game will start at 12 noon to reduce the dew factor. Toss could again prove crucial with both teams wanting to chase. Opener Nasir Jamshed's unbeaten century gave Pakistan a five-wicket victory in Chennai. And whoever wins toss on Thursday, field first would be the preferred choice.
There is still not clear whether Virat Kohli, who sustained an injury to his right knee, will play or not. In case he doesn't recover, then Ajinkya Rahane will play.
India need a good start from Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Not long ago, they were the best opening pair in the country. But in recent times they have been struggling to give the team a good beginning. With Rahane doing well as an opener in Twenty20 Internationals against England, pressure is more on Sehwag.
Rohit Sharma, who is always the focus when India plays, gets another chance to score. The right-hander has so far received innumerable chances to prove his talent and yet he has not transferred his talent into runs.
If Kohli is deemed fit, then team management might look at playing Rahane in place of Rohit. There is also another possibility of Rohit making way for Ravindra Jadeja.
Medium paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a dream debut in Chennai and he will hoping that he can continue the same. Ashok Dinda will be confident playing at his home ground. Ishant Sharma will be the other seamer.
Compared to India's pace attack, Pakistan is better. Irfan, Junaid and Umar Gul are looking good than the hosts' trio.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra and Mohammad Shami Ahmed.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Anwar Ali, Haris Sohail, Imran Farhat, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Zulfiqar Babar.
Match starts at 12 noon IST