Preview: India gunning for ODI series win against West Indies
With a 1-0 lead, India will look to bag the three-match ODI series against the Caribbean Kings when the two sides reconvene at the Queen’s Park Oval on Wednesday.
Despite the intrusion of unprecedented rain, the Men in Blue posted a commanding total of 279/9 against the Windies, riding on an influential ODI ton by Virat Kohli. The hosts, on their part, struggled to make a strong impact in the fixture but witnessed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle overtake the legendary Brian Lara as the leading runscorer in ODIs for the Caribbean Kings.
The Queen’s Park Oval is known to be a free-scoring wicket, and it was evident in the second ODI when India amassed a 270+ total. The overcast conditions will see the pitch slow down over progression in the second half. Thus, it is imperative for the team which wins the toss to opt to bat first.
While the plaudits of India’s batting success in the second ODI went to Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer, Rohit Sharma experienced one of the rarest underperforming days in office as he was dismissed for 18. Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant’s beleaguered Tour of West Indies continued, while all-rounders Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja made their contribution to lead India to a 270-plus total. Ahead of the final ODI, skipper Kohli must address these concerns on priority if they are to effectively bag the ODI series.
The bowling unit, on the other hand, was at their usual best and they troubled the Windies batting setup, bundling them in 42 overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the pick of the bowlers as he bagged his fourth four-wicket haul in ODIs.
The Caribbean Kings’ attacking woes continued as their batting order collapsed within 42 overs of the reduced limit of 46 overs, despite the valiant efforts of Evin Lewis (65 off 80 balls) and Nicholas Pooran (42 off 52 balls). The third and final match serves as a do-or-die situation to level the three-match series, and captain Jason Holder must effectively work out a strategy to see the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope rediscover their batting instincts.
Among the bowlers, Carlos Brathwaite scalped three wickets apart from Sheldon Cottrell, Jason Holder and Roston Chase picking up one wicket each. The seasoned Kemar Roach, who was the most expensive bowler with an economy of 7.7, must revise his bowling patterns if he is to cause trouble to Kohli and Co. on Wednesday.
Although he might opt to stick with the winning combination, Virat Kohli could ring in three changes – Deepak Chahar for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal for Kuldeep Yadav and either Manish Pandey or KL Rahul in the place of Kedar Jadhav, if he is chosen to be rested.
Words: William Paul