CHENNAI: West Indies were supposed to roll over and hand India the five-match ODI series on a platter. Instead, both teams are set to battle it out in the third one-dayer in Pune on Saturday with the scoreline 1-0 in favour of the hosts, with the visitors full of confidence after their last-gasp tie in the last encounter. The Men in Blue have gone back to their top two pace bowlers for the rest of the matches — Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, making it even more difficult for the Windies.
But like India skipper Virat Kohli admitted after the game in Visakhapatnam, the side from the Caribbean deserve praise. West Indies have crossed 300 on both occasions, and though the figure has lost its status as a daunting challenge, it is a testament to the fighting skills of the Windies, especially after the two-Test series and the first ODI.
They had managed to do so only four times since the 2015 World Cup, the least among the top nine nations. With Marlon Samuels yet to find form, they will continue to ask questions of the India bowling attack.
While Kohli had said that the team is more or less ready for the World Cup, the performance of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav in the first two games is a cause for concern. Shami has an economy rate of 7, while Umesh is worse off with 7.10. Shami has played only six ODIs since the World Cup, while Umesh has played 27 in that space of time, but averages over 37. With only 16 ODIs left for the quadrennial meet, India’s pace reserve battery suddenly looks fragile.
“India’s pitches are suited to batting. West Indies have given a good challenge to the bowlers. India still have a variety of options and the Australia tour will give a clearer picture,” former India seamer Madan Lal told Express. Even India’s spinners — Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal — have been ineffectual in the middle-overs, with the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope clobbering them all over the park. While the dew was a factor in the last game, Chahal tends to leak runs though he balances that with a wicket most of the time.
“I believe India have been let down mostly in the middle-overs. The spinners need to contain the opposition. What I like is that the team management have been challenging the players by asking spinners to bowl when there is dew. While Ravindra Jadeja knows how to keep it tight, both wrist spinners should try and keep the run-rate in check,” the former India coach opined.