After succumbing to a meek 76-run defeat in the first Twenty20 International on Wednesday (June 27), Ireland have work to do if they have to compete in the second and final game of the series on Friday. The pitch at the Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin wasn't exactly a batsman's paradise but was helpful for the ones who applied themselves and then shifted gears, something which Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, in particular, did well.
The hosts didn't benefit much by ringing in too many changes in the Powerplay - they used four different bowlers in different spells in the first six overs. India's strength, particularly in white-ball cricket, lies in the top-order which is why Ireland must look to attack up front and Boyd Rankin could be their best bet. Peter Chase was brilliant during the death but the spinners will have to better their performance from the last game.
Fielding standards for both teams were appalling as fielders from either team dropped at least three regulation chances. Both teams will look to address this going into this game. India will continue to experiment further and might fiddle with the middle order again with a change in personnel also a possibility.
Keep an eye on
These are the players who can play a pivotal role for their team during the game
MS Dhoni: The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman's recent exploits in the Indian Premier League saw him getting promoted to No. 4 in the previous encounter. Though he had only 13 balls to play with, Dhoni struck two meaty boundaries - a pull which perfectly threaded the fine leg and deep square leg fielder and a six over Rankin's head in customary Dhoni style. If the 36-year-old gets enough time to play himself him, expect him to launch a scathing attack on the hapless Irish bowlers.
Shikhar Dhawan: The opener has been an indispensable member of the One-Day International team for a number of years but his T20I career didn't quite took off. But this year, Dhawan has been in sparkling form in the shortest format of the game, amassing 415 runs in nine games at a strike rate in the north of 150 and his power-packed 74 in the first game was a testimony to that. The confidence that he is in, Ireland will have their work cut out against Dhawan.
Boyd Rankin: The lanky fast bowler returned wicketless in the first game but troubled Rohit a bit with his in-duckers with the new ball. His swing, coupled with the extra bounce, can cause problems for India's top-order which consists of Dhawan and Suresh Raina - both fidgety against short-pitched bowling. Gary Wilson, the Irish captain, must use Rankin as an attacking option for him to have a big impact in the game.
The odds are heavily stacked against the home team to up stage India, who go into this game as the favorites. If Ireland can get into the Indian middle order early, things might spice up a little.