India vs West Indies, 4th ODI: Focus on fragile middle order as India seek to regain lead
India bowlers need to contain West Indies in the death. (AFP image)

Make no mistake. West Indies’ one-day unit is nothing like their Test set-up. They have shown it from the first game itself. While many believed that not much should be read into the tie of the second ODI, West Indies bounced back to claim a remarkable win at Pune. They exposed the one thing that has been India’s reason to worry – their middle order. Despite having numerous options at the No. 4, 5 and 6, India are far from finding their ideal combination, which is hurting them severely.

With the series levelled at 1-1, plenty will depend on India’s under-fire middle order if they are to regain the lead. The fourth India-West Indies game will be played at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium on Monday, which will host its first international match in nine years.

The glaring issue came to the fore in the Asia Cup final, where had it not been for Kedar Jadhav’s courageous effort to return, a seventh title could have eluded the No. 1 ODI team in the world. Take out India’s top three, and plenty of work needs to be done for the next three. MS Dhoni’s batting woes continued, while Ambati Rayudu, batting at No.4, needs to convert his starts. Same goes for Rishabh Pant, who looked impressive during his two short stays. Onus wll also be on the bowlers to close out West Indies and not let them escape in the death overs.

Credit to West Indies for hanging in there. Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer have emerged as the two bankable options, and skipper Jason Holder has played the supportive role successfully with the bat. But most importantly, it’s their lower order that has bailed West Indies out of trouble in all three games. The only area they need to improve upon is their top order. The bowling too has shown strong character to bounce back from the beating taken in Guwahati and Vizag.

Date: Monday, October 29

Time: 1330 IST

Venue: Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai

Weather: Hot and humid during the day with a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius.

Team News

India

India went ahead with five bowlers in Pune, which meant they missed having a seventh specialist batsman in the side, especially given Dhoni’s poor string of scores. Virat Kohli realised it and mentioned during the post-match presentation ceremony that Jadhav will come back into the side. The 33-year-old batsman has recovered from the hamstring injury suffered during the Asia Cup final and proved his fitness during the Deodhar Trophy game when he struck a 35-ball 41 and bowled five overs. Jadhav also gives India another spin option. The player likely to make way for him is Khaleel Ahmed. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, despite turning out expensive should retain his place.

Probable XI: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 Rishabh Pant, 7 MS Dhoni (wk), 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

West Indies

The top seven looks sorted for the West Indies. Debutant in the last match, Fabian Allen went wicketless and scored just five, but West Indies might just be tempted to give him another chance going into a crucial game as this.

Probable XI: 1 Kieran Powell, 2 Chandrapaul Hemraj, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Fabian Allen, 9 Ashley Nurse, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Obed McCoy

Stats and Trivia

- With 41 wickets from 17 games, Kuldeep Yadav is India’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs in 2018. He needs nine more from two games to replace Rashid Khan as the No. 1 bowler.

- This is the first time in nine years that the Bradbourne Stadium will host an international cricket match.

Quotes:

“They were probably a batsman short. We knew if we remove Dhoni, we could get in to their lower order and put pressure on them.” – Jason Holder, West Indies captain.

“Kedar comes into the side in the next game, that’ll give us the balance and depth in the batting. You will always drift to one side when you don’t have the balance. We have to think about the perfect balance we need.” – India captain Virat Kohli.