HEADLINES:
August 25 2019
Ind vs WI: Resurgent Windies, jolted India to fight for ascendancy
29 October 2018

With the series surprisingly tied at 1-1 and two matches to go, Virati Kohli’s team finds itself in a must-win situation

It took a month since its arrival in India, but having travelled to six venues across four States, the Windies have finally posed serious questions to India. The clinical performance in Pune on Saturday night underlined that the tie in Visakhapatnam three nights earlier wasn’t an aberration for Jason Holder’s hurricanes.

As the teams get ready to clash against each other in the penultimate rubber of the five-match clash at the Brabourne Stadium here, the functionaries of the Cricket Club of India would not have asked for a better occasion to welcome the return of international cricket after a prolonged wait of nine years. 

Monday being the match day and exorbitant ticket prices have resulted in a majority of the loyal Mumbai fans turning their back to the game but with the series in the balance, the host club will be hoping for some of the loyalists to be back to cheer the home team.

Exposed line-up

Irrespective of the turnout, India will be keen to solve its combination muddle. Ambati Rayudu may have virtually solved the No. 4 riddle since the Asia Cup, but injuries to all-rounders Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya — coupled with a certain M.S. Dhoni’s extended mediocre run with the willow — resulted in India’s No. 5, 6 and 7 being exposed. In fact, the chase in Pune showcased India was one batsman too thin and far too over-reliant on its top three when it came to finishing the games off.

Jasprit Bumrah, the pacer who marked his return to top-flight cricket with a four-wicket haul on Saturday, admitted that unavailability of all-rounders was a bit of a concern. “The combination was little different today. Some of our players are injured and some are coming from injuries. Right now, we are trying some combinations,” he said after the 43-run loss. 

“You got to take that into consideration as well. Players who can bowl and bat are not available; maybe once they are available, we will have more bowling options. Then the balance will be better.”

Good augury

In that respect, Jadhav’s recovery from a hamstring injury and inclusion in the squad for the last two ODIs augurs well for India. The diminutive dasher is more than a handy batsman and has proved to be a useful operator with his slinging off-spin. It didn’t come as a surprise then that Jadhav and Dhoni were among a group of seven India batsmen who had a hit at the CCI nets during the team’s optional training session on Sunday afternoon.

Jadhav is almost certain to play and left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed could well make way for him. It would also be interesting to see if India decides to further strengthen its batting by recalling Ravindra Jadeja to the starting line-up.

Settled look

The Windies, on the other hand, looked to have finally settled into a rhythm. While left-arm seamer Obed McCoy has been impressive as a first-change pacer with his variations, left-arm spinner Fabian Allen kept things tight on his debut. Add to that Ashley Nurse’s wicket-taking abilities and the Windies’ bowling unit appeared to be far better in the middle over on a slower track in Pune.

Brabourne will not necessarily be similar. In fact, the recent history in domestic and women’s games indicates that the conventionally hard surface will be a boon for batsmen to pile on the big runs. 

While the home fans will be rooting for Virat Kohli to make it four hundreds in a row, the India captain will be more focused on his team regaining the lead in the series.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Yadav, K.L. Rahul, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav.

West Indies: Jason Holder (Capt.), Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Oshane Thomas and Obed McCoy.

Match starts 1.30 p.m. 

 

 

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