Dominant India on track to seal series

There hasn’t been anything spectacular about the ongoing ODI series between Windies and India with the visitors, as was expected of them, taking a comfortable lead in the series – an unassailable 2-0 at that – with two matches remaining. If not for the opening ODI being ruined because of rain, India could have well sealed the series by now, which is what they’ll be attempting to do in the fourth ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua on Sunday (July 2).

Thrice Windies have bowled first and on two occasions, they did manage to come up with a decent effort with the ball. In the first game, they came back well to pick up quick wickets after a 132-run opening stand but the weather halted their fightback abruptly. While India managed to score 310 in the second ODI, Windies had to be complimented for the death-bowling efforts, where they conceded less than six an over in the last 20 overs. In the previous match, using a damp wicket to their advantage, they picked up early wickets and ensured that India did not end up with a sizeable total, although they were guilty of giving away 100 in their final 10.

The positives have outweighed some of the drawbacks and Windies have been on the money with the ball, but the margin of results in the second and third ODIs – 105 and 93 runs respectively – point out a major shortcoming, which is their batting. Barring a knock of 81 by Shai Hope in the second ODI, none of the Windies batsmen have been able to make an impact, with the next highest score being Jason Mohammed’s 40 in the third game. As a direct result of that, which is largely due to an inexperienced line-up, Windies have suffered massive losses and are now on the verge of conceding the series. Unless that can pull up their socks and show immense application with the bat, the status quo of the current series is unlikely to change.

India have a lot of positives when it comes to their performances in the series thus far, although they haven’t yet tried out their bench strength. The form of Ajinkya Rahane, who has three fifty-plus scores in as many matches – including a century – augurs well for their batting order, and will keep the likes of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul on their toes. Virat Kohli had suggested that Rahane’s utility is not just as an opening batsman as he can also be used as a floater, and his ability to adjust to the different kinds of situations that India have found themselves in, justifies the skipper’s statement. MS Dhoni’s crucial knock in the previous game and Kedar Jadhav’s contribution with the bat suggests the strength of India’s middle-order, which can step up if the situation demands. Yuvraj Singh too proved that he is an important cog, assisting Rahane in leading India’s recovery, although he would have preferred to make a bigger contribution than his knock of 39.

India’s bowling department has been impressive in this series with performances coming from all corners. The quicks Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been complemented well by Hardik Pandya while Kuldeep Yadav’s wicket-taking abilities, which has been on display in this series, proves why he should be persisted with in limited-overs cricket. R Ashwin, after a below-par Champions Trophy, has been getting back into the groove.

When: Sunday, July 2 at 9:00 AM Local Time (6:30 PM IST)

Where: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua

What to expect: The dampness in the wicket due to overnight rain made it slightly difficult for stroke-play in the previous game. But the conditions are expected to be better for the batsmen for this game. The forecast is for clear weather with a high of 29 degree Celsius.

Team News:

Windies: The hosts made as many as three changes for the previous game but it did not make much of a difference. Debutant Kesrick Williams started with a lot of promise but ended up going for runs in the death overs. Windies are likely to stick to the same side that featured in the previous game, unless they want to bring back Alzarri Joseph.

Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope (wk), Jason Mohammed, Roston Chase, Rovman Powell, Jason Holder (c), Ashley Nurse, Devendra Bishoo, Kesrick Williams, Miguel Cummins

India: Kohli had suggested that the team management might consider including some of the players “who have not got a game”, which hints at the possibility of Rishabh Pant’s debut. The left-hander, who bats at No. 4 for Delhi in India’s domestic 50-over competition, could be a like-for-like replacement for Yuvraj. The other choice for the visitors is Dinesh Karthik, who has also performed well in recent months.

Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Rishabh Pant/Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni(w), Kedar Jadhav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav

Did you know?

21: The number of runs Ajinkya Rahane requires to become the highest Indian run-getter in a single series in West Indies. Rohit Sharma, who scored 257 runs in 2011, currently tops the list.

2: The number of stumpings MS Dhoni requires to equal Kumar Sangakkara for most stumpings in ODIs. The former India captain is three away from becoming the first to the 100-stumpings mark.

What they said:

“I am an instinctive player, I like to attack but at the highest level, you have to adapt. I do practise different shots in the nets but in the game situation, you need to read the conditions and situation before playing those shots.” – Ajinkya Rahane.

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