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It looks like all the prayers for an ODI series that is closely contested have been answered. India and West Indies played out a thrilling tie in the second ODI to clearly show that this contest is going to be a lot closer than what we witnessed in the test matches.
In fact, we think the West Indies would have been disappointed to not have won that match after bossing the chase for the most part. Virat Kohli continued his unreal form as he smashed another hundred, while Hetmyer and Hope led the assault for the West Indies.
The series now moves on to Pune where we could have another batting belter. India has made some changes to its squad for the last three matches and they will definitely affect the balance of the side as well.
There is no doubt in our mind that India would have walked away a relieved side after the match ended in a tie. There were several things that India did wrong which could have ended up hurting them but did not.
The first of those was the toss. India chose to bat first on a surface that looked quite slow and difficult to score off. It seemed that a score of 250 would have been par on that surface and when India ended up getting to 321, it seemed for sure that the West Indies would fold against India’s three spinners.
Getting to 321 was down to the brilliance of Virat Kohli and words are starting to run out to describe this man’s genius. He reached 10,000 runs in ODI cricket, the fastest ever to do so, and scored his 37th ODI hundred.
Perhaps the most dazzling stat was that Kohli went from 9000 to 10,000 runs in a matter of 11 innings. That is the quickest someone has ever scored 1000 runs in a calendar year and shows the kind of form he has been in.
Can you really bet against him getting a third successive hundred in this series? We would recommend betting on Kohli and perhaps maybe even four in a row! There really is nothing this man cannot do at the moment.
The other Indian batsmen did not have a good day. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got out early, putting the onus on the middle order to stand up. Ambati Rayadu continued to prove why he is the best man for the job at 4 with a solid 73 from 80 deliveries. His only regret would have been not to convert this score into an ODI hundred which seemed to be there for his taking.
Dhoni and Rishab Pant got a start without contributing much, both getting out when they just seemed to have settled down. Their form shows that India needs someone like Hardik Pandya at number 7 to bolster the batting. Kedar Jadhav in this order also has a huge role to play as India build to the ICC World Cup 2019.
The Indian bowling was quite poor, to be honest. Umesh Yadav and Mohamad Shami struggled for control until the very death overs where both made a comeback. The spinners kept trying to buy the wicket of Hetmyer and Hope but were smashed with disdain.
We actually liked what Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were trying to do because it gave India chance. Ravindra Jadeja was bowling flat darts that were neither good at stopping runs and did not seem likely to pick a wicket either.
With the return of Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar to the side, we expect Shami and Umesh Yadav to miss out.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, V Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, RR Pant, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, JJ Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, YS Chahal.
The West Indies made one change of playing Obed McCoy in place of Oshane Thomas for the last match and it turned out decently for them. McCoy was difficult to hit for most players until Kohli took a liking to him.
Now that the West Indies have tied the last match, can we expect any more changes to their side for the upcoming match? We certainly hope so. There are a couple of players that are in the squad who are extremely talented and could be a part of the West Indian plans for the ICC World Cup 2019.
Someone like Fabien Allen must get a run in the side at some point during the series. With Hemraj Chanderpaul struggling at the top of the order, surely Hope could be moved up and a place be found for Allen in the middle order.
It is players like Fabien Allen and Oshane Thomas that have the potential to be match winners that the West Indies needs to invest in.
Even if the West Indies does not make any change to their side, they still have a good ODI unit. Kieron Powell has been striking the ball well, Shai Hope is in good form, and Shimron Hetmyer is making the world take notice of his abilities.
The three of them have to be the chief contributors to the West Indies cause going ahead. Marlon Samuels has the necessary experience but he seems to have fallen a bit out of form. Still, he is not someone we would write off after just a couple of matches. All it will take is a couple of hits for him to come back to prime form.
The one player that we think is about to explode, though, is Rovman Powell. He has the clean striking ability that someone like Andre Russell possesses. His struggle to pick Kuldeep Yadav was apparent and is he can figure that part out then he could be a good value pick to back in the next match.
The West Indies finally seems to have its batting sorted but what about its bowling? They actually did pretty well in the last match until they ran into the unstoppable force that is Virat Kohli. Kemar Roach and the two spinners bowled much better than in the opening game.
Jason Holder would have been disappointed with his return but that can be put down to an off-game. With McCoy showing talent at the death and Marlon Samuels contributing with a few overs regularly, the West Indies need to hope for some luck going its way.
The side also needs to hold its catches. Kohli was dropped before he had reached fifty and Amabati Rayadu got a couple of chances as well. Playing against a side like India in good batting conditions means that the fielding has to be absolutely top-notch or else you are going to pay.
Kieran Powell, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shai Hope, MN Samuels, Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, F Allen, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Obed McCoy.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The surface in Pune can be a bit tricky to predict. The last match played there was a low scoring thriller between India and New Zealand where the spinners dominated. A score of 230 was chased won by India in 46 overs. The match before that, though, saw India chase down 350 against England on an absolute batting paradise.
Which surface will turn up? We think it is going to be the batting paradise with a score of 320 being par.
The West Indies has been playing out of its skin to try and match India who has now been strengthened by the return of its two best fast bowlers. With the form that Virat Kohli has been in and the overall strength of the side, we recommend backing India once again.
Back India to win.
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