If death-bowling was one of the chief architects that designed the Windies’ victory against India in the first ODI, the same factor plotted their downfall in the second ODI. Like their skipper Kieron Pollard admitted, they ended up conceding plenty of runs in the final overs. The numbers chalk up to giving away 90 runs in their last five overs.
Nevertheless, the blistering form of their batsmen augurs well for the series-decider which could end up in any extreme. One department where the tourists have been prosperous so far is to keep Virat Kohli entirely quite in this series. However, they need to find past the men in blue’s rising middle-order that managed to add at least 60 extra runs to the total. The way Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran were going in the middle-overs, India would have always felt safe with those additional runs in the bucket. But the men in maroon require a lot more than that in the final game.
A year ago or nine months back, India’s batting could have bundled out somewhere near 240-250 in the first ODI due to the rare failure of the top order. Despite a double-century partnership, before the World Cup, India might have bottled it to finish around 340-350 in the second match. However, the introduction of Shreyas Iyer have heralded a new era for India’s middle-order after the World Cup. With Rishabh Pant finding his stride with each passing match, the pressure on the top-order batsmen has increasingly reduced.
Kuldeep Yadav’s three-wicket burst flags that we may witness the return of his old self. The hosts may still look to bring in Yuzvendra Chahal for Ravindra Jadeja, who has looked off-colour with his bowling in two games. India will also want to be more disciplined with the ball, chipping away with more wickets in the middle-overs. Their fielding in that period also needs a raise in standards as they would need a more impressive effort in all the facets to claim the series in Cuttack.
Date and venue: December 22nd 2019, 1:30 pm, Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
Changes in playing eleven:
Despite a heavy defeat in the second game, the visitors are unlikely to trigger any changes to the playing eleven. Khary Piere couldn’t provide any threat to the Indian batsmen; however, the Windies might give him another go. The pitch can also turn out as slow and low at the Barabati Stadium thus; the tourists would hope Roston Chase fares better than the last game.
Predicted XI: Shai Hope(wk), Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Roston Chase, Kieron Pollard(c), Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell
The home side has been dealt with another injury blow in the form of Deepak Chahar, who sustained pain to his lower back. Navdeep Saini is likely to take his place. Additionally, Yuzvendra Chahal may also get slotted in place of Ravindra Jadeja since the latter has conceded 132 runs from 20 overs with two wickets in two games. Given India’s middle-order is showing signs of revival, the hosts would be encouraged to play five bowlers.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
It could be a tricky decision to choose for the captain who wins the toss. The deck in Cuttack generally is of a slow and low nature, and it again may serve the same as the game progresses. Like most of the pitches in India, the dew factor might come back into play.
The series-decider may most likely witness no showers. On the contrary, the humidity level is forecasted to be of 63%. The temperature would range between 24-26 degrees, yet the conditions are anticipated to be pleasant throughout the day.
Head to Head:
India won: 63
West Indies: 63
Tied – 2
No result – 4
Stats that matter:
The last ODI played at the Barabati Stadium in 2017 turned out to be a high-scoring encounter. India piled up 381 in their 50 overs, but England lost the match only by 15 runs.
The top three players of both India and West Indies are the highest run-getters in 2019 in ODIs. Rohit Sharma leads the run-scoring charts with 1427 runs, Shai Hope sits at second with 1303 runs followed by Virat Kohli, who is on 1292.
Kuldeep Yadav is currently on 99 ODI wickets from 55 games. Should he pick up one more wicket in this match, he will join Mohammed Shami as the fastest Indian bowler to claim 100 wickets in 50-over international cricket.
The series has turned out to be a highly-intriguing one. India have found themselves in this position more often than not in the current year. Given their track record of prevailing in series-deciders this year, the men in blue should edge out the men from the Caribbean. Yet, one can only count the West Indies out in their own peril.