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Focus on batters as India aim to seal ODI series vs West Indies

July 28, 2023 13:35 IST

IMAGE: Pacer Mukesh Kumar, centre, celebrates his maiden ODI wicket with captain Rohit Sharma and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

The Indian team will be expected to return to its set batting order as it aims to put up a much-improved show with the willow and take an unassailable lead in the three-match series when it faces a below-par West Indies in the second ODI, in Barbados, on Saturday.


Skipper Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid did face a minor hiccup while trying out the middle-order batters upfront on a track that became a raging turner during the second session but a meager target of 115 meant that things were smooth for the better part.

However, one can vouch with a degree of certainty that even if India once again chases a small target, Rohit Sharma will indeed come out with Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli will be seen padded to come at one drop.

Ishan Kishan, despite his impressive fifty, will have to bat in the middle order, a place he will have to vacate during Asia Cup in Sri Lanka if K L Rahul happens to make a comeback.

With 11 more matches left before the opening World Cup game against Australia in Chennai on October 8 (as per the current schedule), India would aim at a settled combination and hence too much experimentation might not be what the doctor would order.

The Kensington Oval in Barbados is home turf for the late Malcolm Marshall and the 'Big Bird' Joel Garner where visiting side batters would get mentally psyched out even before the 'Big Four' (Andy Roberts and Michael Holding) had the red cherry in their hands.

But on Thursday, the legend of Kensington track seemed like an oxymoron as Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav made the Caribbean batters look very silly with the turn and bounce that was on offer.

IMAGE: Ishan Kishan slammed a quickfire half-century in the first ODI. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

Even Hardik Pandya, with the new ball, looked very skiddy and was able to hurry the batters along with Umran Malik, who bowled a number of pacey deliveries.

Gone are those golden days of West Indies cricket and the popularity of cricket in the islands has hit an all-time nadir after its non-qualification for the ODI World Cup in India.

The propensity to play T20 game in a 50-over contest was very much on show with the kind of indiscreet shot selections that got them into a tangle against Jadeja and Kuldeep.

The track used for the second ODI might not be the same one but nature could be identical and hence Indian team shouldn't mind the challenge of batting first.

Facing Gudakesh Motie's orthodox left-arm spin and Yannic Cariah's leg breaks won't be the most difficult proposition but not the easiest one either.

IMAGE: Kuldeep Yadav picked up 4/6 to send the West Indies crashing for 114 in 23 overs. Photograph: BCCI/Twitter

The Indian batters haven't exactly set the stage on fire when facing spinners on turners and this won't be a bad test for the team if the conditions of first ODI is replicated.

Places like Chennai and Lucknow -- venues for the World Cup games against Australia and England -- will aid spinners and it is always good to get some simulation in overseas conditions, which are pretty similar to what one can expect at home.

For Suryakumar Yadav, it will be imperative that he can replicate his T20 form in 50 over cricket. Thursday was a golden opportunity and he did look good before a sweep shot off Motie brought about his downfall.

Suryakumar knows that his place in the ODI team is doubtful if Shreyas Iyer and Rahul returns and he needs to score runs in the remaining two matches to keep his spot in the team.

Mukesh Kumar as a reserve pacer should make it to the squad behind Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Shardul Thakur. His discipline, in terms of line and length, across formats has been exemplary and it will be difficult to drop him unless India picks that extra spinner in the 15-man squad.


West Indies: Shai Hope (captain, wicket-keeper), Rovman Powell (vice-captain), Alick Athanaze, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Dominic Drakes, Shimron Hetmyer, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Jayden Seales, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas.

India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Shardul Thakur, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohd. Siraj, Umran Malik, Mukesh Kumar.

Match starts at 7pm IST.

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