West Indies shocked India by 43 runs to level the five-match series 1-1 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Saturday. As the caravan now moves to the fourth ODI in Mumbai, the hosts will look to get over this crushing defeat and look for a win to take an unassailable lead at the Brabourne Stadium.
The hosts are expected to make a few changes in their line-up for the penultimate match of the series and we try to predict the side which could take the field on Monday –
Opener Rohit Sharma’s consistency has been a major factor for India in the limited-over formats of the game. In one match he will go on to score a magnificent century like in Guwahati, and then sooner than later, he will see his middle-stump uprooted for a paltry score, like in Pune. However, the Indian vice-captain remains a certainty in the team for the forseeable future because of his ability to provide the team with good starts, which is the case more often than not.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan has a very ordinary record against Windies in comparison to other international teams that he has played against . In the Pune ODI, he got off to a start but failed to convert into a big one and that cost the team dear. But the southpaw forms a lethal partnership with Rohit at the top and despite KL Rahul waiting in the wings, Dhawan is expected to start the match as the team management would not want to tinker with the opening combination which has done exceedingly well in the past.
Three centuries in three matches — this is India skipper Virat Kohli’s record in the ongoing series. He has been leading the team from the front but because he hasn’t been able to find support from his teammates, India have won one, tied one and lost one thus far. Kohli remains the backbone of the Indian batting and without his runs, the line-up would seem very ordinary — because of the performance of the middle-order. As a captain, Kohli has been proactive on the field and led the team in the best possible way.
Middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu came up with the goods when the team needed him the most in Vizag, but went missing in the Pune where India succumbed to a crushing defeat. But Rayudu enjoys the backing of the team management — especially skipper Kohli, who has time and again said that he remains India’s best bet at number four currently.
Batman Rishabh Pant hasn’t been able to bring forward his Test form over to the ODIs so far in the series. In Pune, the southpaw got off to a flying start but couldn’t convert it into a big score and was dismissed for just 24. But with Indian middle-order continue to look shaky, it seems improbable that the team management will opt to leave out an explosive batsman like Pant.
All-rounder Kedar Jadhav will walk into the current Indian side considering that he has proved he is fitness to the team management. Jadhav recently featured in the Deodhar Trophy and because of that, he was called into the squad for the final two ODIs. What tips the scale in his favour is that apart from being a hard-hitting middle-order batsman, he has a knack of picking wickets with his spin bowling.
Wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni may no longer be part of the India T20 squad, however, he remains the team’s best bet behind the stumps. Dhoni rolled back the years and took a stunning catch during the Pune ODI to illustrate his fitness and wicket-keeping abilities. His batting remains a cause of concern but with him being all but assured of his place in next year’s World Cup, India would want Dhoni to play as many games as possible in the run-up to the tournament.
Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a torrid time on his return as he conceded 70 runs and picked just one wicket in the allotted 10 overs. He was taken for boundaries early on in the innings and then, gave away crucial runs in the dying overs, that proved to the difference between the two teams in the end. But Bhuvneshwar could be given the benefit of doubt of being rusty in his comeback match and he will look to make amends in the upcoming clash. The fact that he is very handy with that bat as well also tips the scale in his favour.
Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav had a good outing in Pune and will look to continue his good run of form in Mumbai as well. Kuldeep has been taken for runs in the ongoing series but he has been among the wickets as well. He remains India’s premier spinner in the limited-over formats of the game and therefore, is assured of a place in the side.
Like Kuldeep, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has been among the wickets as is the leading wicket-taker in the series so far (tied with Kuldeep at the top). Chahal forms a very lethal partnership with Kuldeep and they pile on the pressure on the batsmen whenever they bowl in tandem. One area of concern for Chahal is that he has been leaking runs aplenty, but his wicket-taking abilities have overshadowed that thus far.
Last but certainly not the least, pacer Jasprit Bumrah is not only the best Indian bowler but in the world as well. The number 1 ODI bowler ended with outstanding figures of 4/35 in a match where his teammates were giving away runs for fun. Bumrah hit the ground running in Pune and picked up early wickets to set the tone for India during the Windies innings. Then, he came back in the dying overs of the innings to stop Shai Hope from crossing the three-figure mark with the help of this trademark yorker. Bumrah’s wicket-taking ability coupled with his unbelievable death bowling makes him a priceless asset to the team.