India will be looking forward to wrapping up the series when they meet hosts West Indies in Antigua. The series has been a cakewalk for the Indians so far. Apart from slight hints of competition, there has been no display of a one on one contest between the two sides.
The third match played at the same venue on Friday was the best chance West Indies had to level the series and offer something to cheer for their tired fans. But, they flunked. The upcoming match wouldn’t have been a series winning opportunity for India but the nightmarish performance from the hosts ensured that the visitors won despite under par showing with the bat.
But, looking forward, Virat Kohli can finally test the players warming the bench and rest some of the names who have playing regularly. There is a chance that Dinesh Kartik and Ravindra Jadeja might come in. But the biggest excitement is surrounding the inclusion of Delhi opener Rishabh Pant.
Rishabh Pant, the lad with a mix of brutal power and class, deserves a chance. After all the Under-19 performances and IPL blitz, the 19-year-old left-handed opener is ready to rock and roll at the international level.
His inclusion in the West Indies squad was a bright sign. It gave an assurance to the fans that the selection panel led by MSK Prasad was keen on trying new promising names at the earliest to help them soak some international experience in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup.
This anticipation also made fans believe that Pant would be given a chance in the first ODI itself. But Virat Kohli went with the tested lineup. The second and the third ODI also witnessed the same anticipation but Kohli continued to stay away from testing the youngster.
However, the fourth, as well as the fifth ODI, provides a great opportunity for Team India and Kohli to let the youngster taste a bit of international cricket. It will not only help him gain exposure but also ensure some fireworks. The series is lacking the ‘masala’ factor. So far it has been a dull affair. The 9 am crowd has been literally sleeping in the stands as player bore them out by the halfway stage of the match. Only Pant promises to make some change.
He may also get rested in order to make away for Rishabh Pant. He has been in great form and can afford to just rest for the last couple of games. Although it seems slightly difficult that he would be made to sit actually by Kohli. Rahane, for all reason, appears as the best candidate to swap places with Pant.
Enough has been written about why he should be included in the side. If not in the to order Kohli cn squeeze him in the middle order. He is habituated to batting down the order as well so that wouldn’ cause nay problem. He has played in the middle order for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL in the presence of regular opener Quinton de Kock and the established Sanju Samson.
The skipper would love to have a go at the opposition after failing in the 3rd ODI. He has a knock of 87 under his belt in this series. But, it will be only fair if he produces a bigger, more delightful innings in the upcoming games. But, more than his own performance, fans will eagerly waiting for him to make some bold decisions related to the playing XI.
‘Fine wine,’ MS Dhoni called his know of 78 from 79 balls in the last game. Normally, the Dhoni we know tries to keep the run rate moving and the strike rate in check. But, strangely, he was batting in a sluggish fashion. But, it turned everything was a plan to maul the opposition in the final ten overs. One the 40 over mark was reached, Dhoni turned into his original avatar and helped India add 100 runs off the final 60 balls.
The supporting paartner to Dhoni in the ‘final 10 over’ blitz was Kedar Jadhav. He brought the fireworks to the other wise boring match in real terms. He smashed 40 runs in just 26 runs and contributed heavily in the addition of the bulk of the runs which India added in the later stages of the match.
Hardik is irreplaceable at the moment. The seam bowling all-rounder has grown into a highly reliable name who is now reckoning to become new finisher in Team India. he did not get to bat in the previou match but bowled exceptionally well, picking 2/32 in his 6 over spell.
He looks like a doubtful starter. If Kohli decides to include Pant with an aim of making him play in the middle order then Yuvraj Singh would be the first name to slashed out of the XI. He has been not upto the mark and looks to be struggling.
The chinaman will retain his place. He has been the toughest bowler West Indies have faced in this series so far. The winning process in the previous game was sped up by the left arm spinner. The middle order collapse was triggered by him with the help of his spell of 3/41.
The senior man will also retain his place. He is in form and picked 3/28 in the previous game. However, there are chances that he might be rested if the skipper choses to provide Jadeja an opportunity to play. Ashwin is the only likely candidate to be rested in that case.
The pace spearhead has been exceptional in the series. Barring the 3rd ODI, where he ended wicketless, Bhuvi has done very well with the new ball. The West Indians have been cautious in playing rash strokes againt him which has reduced his chances of picking wickets. But, overall, he has been very effective.
The bulky fast bower will share the new ball with Bhuvi as usual. There is no chance of him sitting out. He will prove tricky to face on the two faced wicket at North Sound.
Here Is The XI:
Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Yuvraj Singh, Kuldeep Yadav, R. Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.