India vs West Indies: With Rohit Sharma-Virat Kohli in form, India aim to go for the kill
The last time West Indies emerged victorious in an ODI series in India, in 2002, Carl Hooper was the leader of the Caribbean pack while the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly still donned national colours. The two sides’ paradigm headed in opposite directions since then, with India reaching two World Cup finals, winning once in 2011, while West Indies barely scraping through to qualify for the upcoming 2019 World Cup.
Thus, come Thursday, if Jason Holder’s men manage to pull off another shock win as they had in Pune, the magnitude of the victory would be no less than a series win for the islanders even though it would end in a 2-2 draw. It would hurt the hosts as much.
Both skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are in exemplary form and have combined to hit five of the six centuries scored by India in the series so far. Although India’s lower middle-order is virtually untested, the form of the top four has been such that their success and failure have often determined the course of a match.
To add to West Indies’ woes, No. 4 Ambati Rayudu joined the bandwagon as well in the last game. A vital cog in the Indian dressing room setup over the last couple of months, Rayudu slammed two half-centuries in the Asia Cup before going a notch ahead in the ongoing series with a century in the last game.
However, bowling coach Bharat Arun underlined that despite everything, a player will only be eligible for selection if he makes the mark set for the Yo-Yo test. Rayudu already lost his spot once from the Indian team during the side’s tour to England for the three-match ODI series, earlier this year. “Fitness, with the kind of schedule that we have, is an important part of our focus. And the mark that we have kept for people to pass is not every tough. And anyone who is there in the team has to pass the fitness test,” Arun said.
Overall thus, it should be advantage India. Only, that it isn’t completely so. The weather Gods have kept both the sides in the corridor of uncertainty with chances of a rain-curtailed encounter well on the cards. There is a forecast of thunderstorm around afternoon, here on Thursday. A washout, would, however, hand India a 2-1 victory.
West Indies fielding coach Nic Pothas, however, lauded the hosts a day ahead of the game stating that the series was a great learning curve for the young inexperienced side. The confidence exuded after clinching the third ODI also seemed to have fizzled out a bit following the shambolic show in Mumbai. “Lots of fantastic players - that’s what you get with such a strong team. They’re a great team to learn from. We don’t just play against India, we learn from them too. These are great opportunities when you come and play against teams of this quality,” he said.
India might opt for a similar tactic as the last game if they win the toss given that the track is expected to help the batsmen. Although there’s a bit of grass on the surface, it isn’t a hard deck and is unlikely to offer much to the bowlers. There haven’t been much cricket played on the surface this season as well owing to the fixture although it has a hosted a couple of local league games.
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