Series on the line for hosts

Plot:

2017 hasn’t been a fruitful year for West Indies, so far. They have played 12 one day internationals – won 2, lost 8 and 2 of them were washed out due to rain. They lost two bilateral ODI series at home, to England and Pakistan and drew one with Afghanistan. They are on the brink of losing their third ODI series at home in 2017, and face strong opponents in the form of Team India. The hosts have little time to regroup with just the day’s break after their loss to India in the third ODI. The series can’t be won from here, but they can win the remaining two games and draw level.

India will have other ideas! They will look to bring the hammer down hard on the Windies and win the series in the fourth ODI itself. Form and on-paper strength suggests that they may do so, unless the Windies players spring something special. India were given the task to bat first on a tricky surface in North Sound. They lost two early wickets, Dhawan and Kohli, but the batting order didn’t break. Rahane played the role of sheet anchor and Dhoni partnered him well after Yuvraj’s wicket. Dhoni the finisher rose to the occasion and some calculative hitting took them to a competitive total. West Indies succumbed to India’s bowling might, especially that in the spin department.

What the Windies need to do is bat better. Their bowling has seemed pretty good, against the formidable Indian batsmen. They have built pressure on several occasions, but also let it slip with lapses on the field. They will need to hold on to their chances, those that are rarely provided by the Indian batsmen. Their batsmen fell to an array of rash strokes against the spinners, and may want to look for the right balls to go after.

India may go ahead with an unchanged team to seal the series. Pant may just have to wait for his opportunity a little longer. Ashwin came into his own after a rather tough month or so in ODIs. Kuldeep Yadav continued the impressive start to his ODI career and will be hard for the Windies batsmen to pick off the wrist yet again. The contest will once again pan out between the Indian bowlers and the Windies batsmen.

Stage:

Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua

The pitch in North Sound was perhaps one of the toughest India have batted on this year. They passed the test with flying colours, but it may not be over yet. The fourth ODI could have a similar surface and both teams will have to bat extremely well.

Acts:

MS Dhoni vs Jason Holder

Former captain vs current captain! Jason Holder was taken to the cleaners by MS Dhoni during the death overs of the third ODI. Dhoni hit him for 20 runs off 12 balls. Dhoni’s experience can come in handy once again, if the surface is on the slower side.

Hardik Pandya vs the ‘Hopes’

Hardik Pandya chipped in with two wickets in the third ODI, that of the Hope brothers. While Kyle was making his debut, Shai was fresh off a good knock in the second ODI. However, Pandya dismissed both of them with similar deliveries, which were short and at the body. He will persist with a similar line and length when he gets his opportunity to bowl to them in the fourth ODI.

Yuvraj Singh vs Devendra Bishoo

Yuvraj has his troubles against spin, early in his innings. His front leg has been privy to being struck by the ball on more occasions than one. The leg spinner tapped on this and got Yuvraj lbw. The experienced southpaw is yet to fire in this series, but has got starts. He may just look to take the aggressive channel in the next ODI.

West Indies have one last chance to save the series, and will look to play hard and bring their best game to the fore. The Indians will be wary of this and will not let complacency get in the way of their approach. A tough wicket could mean another battling stay in the middle and batsmen will look to play the old-fashioned way yet again.


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