India aim to sign off ODIs on a high ahead of Tests
Jolted by the massive loss in the fourth ODI, India would aim to get the crucial psychological edge over the West Indies before the Test series when they take on the hosts in the fifth and final one-dayer in Kingston on Thursday.
The ODI series is already in their pocket as the Indians have taken a 3-1 lead but they would try and ensure that the scoreline suggests domination by signing off 4-1.
Berths in the eleven for the first Test match, scheduled to start next Monday, are up for grabs and those certain would aim to fall in a groove while those still on the edge would look to leave a definite impression on the team management.
There are at least two batsmen and the fast-bowling combination which needs to be sorted out ahead of the Test series.
India needs two middle-order batsmen for the first Test. So, there is an added incentive for Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, almost certainties, to familiarise themselves with the venue.
Image: Suresh Raina
Sabina Park is expected to have pace and bounce
The pitch at Sabina Park is expected to have pace and bounce and it would do a world of good to Kohli and Raina if they are able to spend some profitable time in the middle.
Both have had at least one notable innings in the series but their runs and averages so far-- 105 for Kohli at 26.25 and 82 for Raina at 27.33-- aren't very impressive.
The only contender for a berth in the middle order, Subramaniam Badrinath, is way too behind in the race having made a mere 40 runs at 13.33 from four games and looking distinctly uncomfortable against short-pitched deliveries of Andre Russell in the fourth game on Monday.
Image: Virat Kohli
Mishra is likely to be retained
The biggest beneficiary has been leg-spinner Amit Mishra with nine wickets at 17 apiece from four games.
He could revise the trend of going into a Test abroad with just one spinner.
The West Indian batsmen have found him more than a handful in one-dayers and he could be an even bigger force in Tests given that he would have an attacking field to support him.
Mishra is likely to be retained in the fifth one-dayer even though he went for a few in the fourth game on Monday.
The team management would like to have a closer look at him on a pitch which is more suited to a fast bowler.
Image: Amit Mishra
Munaf Patel is almost a certainty for the Tests
India would almost certainly go with two spinners in the final game and that leaves just two places for medium pacers.
On the face of it, Munaf Patel is almost a certainty for the Tests and that leaves Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma to battle it out for the second slot.
Praveen is yet to play a Test for India so he would not be short of motivation.
West Indies would be encouraged by their consolation win in the fourth game.
A couple of young men, Andre Russell and Anthony Martin, have shown the way forward with their spirit and belief but with Chris Gayle once again ignored, batting looks brittle.
But the good news is that fit-again opener Adrian Barath made his way in, replacing a not-too-impressive Kirk Edwards in the squad which beat India by 103 runs in the fourth one-dayer.
Image: Munaf Patel
Ravi Rampaul returns after a brief rest
Besides Barath, Ravi Rampaul also returned to the side after a brief rest to replace Danza Hyatt.
The 21-year-old Barath was undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a hamstring injury which forced him out of the 2011 World Cup.
West Indies also finally have their wish for a hard and bouncy pitch answered in Sabina Park. They would love to carry the momentum forward into the game and in the Test series beyond.
Opener Lendl Simmons has been a positive influence and Kieron Pollard is showing signs of asserting himself in the middle.
The lower order has definitely shown signs of resurgence.
If only the top order can look to tackle spinners, build stands and not give up then this West Indian side could still run the world champions close.
Image: Ravi Rampaul with teammates