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The India vs West Indies ODI series has come alive thanks to a brilliant performance by West Indies in the last game. An easy win for India in the first match may have made it seem like the series was a foregone conclusion but the scoreline reads 1-1 after three matches including a thrilling tie.
Truth be told, India is lucky not to be trailing 2-1 in this series.
The fact that this win for the West Indies came against an Indian side which had been reinforced with the addition of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is very encouraging. It shows that India cannot simply turn up and expect to win.
India and West Indies are locked in a close contest which will now go down to the last match. 1-1 with two matches to go means that all three possibilities in this series are open. With the World Cup approaching in just a few months, India is being given a rude wake-up call while the West Indies is showing that it is not going to be simply making up the numbers.
Virat Kohli won another toss and put in the West Indies to bat. It was a pitch that had some spin on offer and usually becomes better to bat on under the lights. The decision to bowl first was backed by historical results and was a sound one.
India started well with the ball too. They kept picking regular wickets and had the West Indies at 121 for 5 before a partnership between Jason Holder and Shai Hope brought the West Indies back into the game.
At 227 for 8, though, with all the West Indian recognized batsmen in the hut, India would have been very disappointed to have let the visitors end up at a total of 283. Poor bowling at the death, inability to polish off the tail and complacency cost India the extra runs which ended up being crucial.
Jasprit Bumrah returning after a break was brilliant as he took four wickets for just 35 runs in his ten overs. Kuldeep Yadav once again took wickets in the middle overs but all the other bowlers struggled.
Yuzvendra Chahal seems to be bowling within himself and is struggling against the left-handers in particular. Hetmyer was taking him to the cleaners before he got out. Khaleel Ahmed and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar were very poor.
It seems very strange that Khaleel Ahmed has overtaken bowlers like Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami in the order of things. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar had a tough game but he can take a couple of games to warm-up and we expect him to back at his best in the next game.
As a proven performer and someone who took plenty of wickets in the just-concluded Asia Cup, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar certainly deserves this much leeway. Expect Umesh Yadav to replace Khaleel Ahmed in the next match.
There are bound to be some changes in the Indian batting order also for the next match. Virat Kohli continued to bat in God mode and scored his third consecutive century of the series. He is int he kind of form that he can score a hundred everytime he comes on to the ground and we really would not bet against him scoring another one in the upcoming game.
Shikar Dhawan would be concerned about getting out once again after getting a start. Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan are among the three best ODI batsmen in the world. It is time that Dhawan and Sharma start to stitch together a bigger partnership at the top of the order.
Ambati Rayadu got out against the runs of play and while Rishab Pant scored some quick runs, he too did not do the job needed at the time. With Kedar Jadhav available, Pant is going to miss out the next match in all likelihood.
The pressure on Dhoni to start scoring runs is also mounting. India suddenly has more questions than it did while entering this series.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, V Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, JJ Bumrah.
Victory in the last match would have meant a lot to the West Indies. It came against a full-strength India side in India and after having lost the toss. Shai Hope showed just why he is rated so highly around the world as he narrowly missed out on his second hundred of the series.
We genuinely believe that there is room for this West Indian side to still be better. Kieron Powell is batting very well and getting the side off to a good start but Hemraj Chanderpaul is just looking out of his depth. The West Indies must find someone in the squad to replace him or move Hope to the opening position.
If the West Indies can get its top-order to contribute a bit more then it will make the batting very formidable because the middle order is absolutely humming right now. Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer are the two batsmen that have ensured they are going to be at the center of West Indian cricket for a very long time to come.
We just hope that the West Indian board can keep Shimron Hetmyer engaged and actually keen to play ODI cricket for the future because his big hitting is going to attract a lot of attention from the T20 leagues around the world.
For the time being, though, the West Indians have a batting order that is settling in nicely. Marlon Samuels and Rovman Powell still have to find their feet in the series and that is probably the only concern that the West Indies batting has at the moment.
Jason Holder is a reliable all-rounder now and the addition of Fabien Allen to the side is an excellent one. He bowled quite well in the first match and is a savage hitter of the ball as well.
The West Indian bowling was very impressive in the last match. Ashley Nurse and Fabien Allen kept the runs tight and picked wickets in the middle order while the seamers were steady too. Jason Holder bowled the ball of the match which got Rohit Sharma and even though Virat Kohli scored a century, the West Indian bowlers never really let the situation get out of hand.
Now the task for them will be to repeat this same kind of performance in the next couple of matches as well. We hope they are proactive and continue to make changes to their side wherever necessary, although, it looks like they don’t have any batsmen in reserve anymore.
Kieran Powell, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shai Hope, MN Samuels, Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, F Allen, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul.
The team winning the toss is likely to want to field first
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The next match will be played in Mumbai at the Brabourne Stadium. The pitch at Brabourne is not as good as it is at the Wankhede but it is still a very good batting surface. The ball tends to fly off the bat in Mumbai and we expect a lot of runs in this match.
Both sides will be wary of what a good total here is and that is why batting second can be an advantage. The bowlers from both sides will have to be very creative to avoid a bad day in the office. Expect a score of around 320 to be par.
The West Indies has given India something to think about and we expect the second best ODI side in the world to come back strongly.
Back India to win.
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