Calcutta/Kanpur: It’s exactly after four years that international cricket is making a comeback to the Green Park, where India have rarely put a foot wrong, be it in Tests or one-dayers.
With the ongoing three-match ODI series against the West Indies tied at 1-1, India would certainly look to get their act together and wrap up the series in their happy hunting ground, in the decider, on Wednesday.
Unfavourable bowling conditions had pegged them back in the last ODI, with the Windies batsmen, led by Darren Sammy’s unbeaten 63, cashing in on the dew factor to claw their way back into the series.
India have by far been the dominant force since West Indies’ arrival here. But the visitors’ fightback in Visakhapatnam seems to have re-ignited their hopes of finishing with a flourish should they win the third and final ODI.
For sure, winning the one-day series would mean a lot to the Windies, especially after being hammered in the two Tests. Their victory in the second ODI has at least instilled in them some confidence and self-belief with which, they can approach the deciding game.
For India, it is their last international appearance at home before embarking on a difficult tour of South Africa. No wonder they would like to finish this series on a high.
Battingwise, there shouldn’t be any worries for India. The top three — Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli — have all been in scintillating form. Dhawan might not have scored enough runs, but did get off to good, positive starts. Rohit, too, continues to be impressive and as far as Kohli is concerned, he looks to get a hundred every time he goes out to bat.
The off-form of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina in the middle-order could be one cause of concern for India. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, however, backed Yuvraj to regain his touch, terming the left-hander as a vital cog in India’s middle-order.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who has been doing a decent job with his slow left-armers, too, would be desperate to return among runs.
All three left-handers were stymied as West Indies were smart with their resources, feeding Yuvraj a diet of spin, something he does not enjoy when new at the crease.
Barring the last match where dew played a major factor, the Indian bowlers have been pretty consistent in the series so far. The pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma, who struggled because of the dew in Visakhapatnam, would be hoping to make amends in better conditions.
However, their spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja need to carry on with their show if India are to clinch the series. It remains to be seen whether the team management prefers to bring in leg-spinner Amit Mishra for Mohit.
West Indies, on the other hand, would like the likes of Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons and Sammy to continue with their significant contributions. They can certainly find themselves with a great chance of winning the series if any of their top-order batsmen go on to get a big score.
“Winning the last game gave us the confidence and the belief that we can actually beat India in India,” Bravo said on the eve of the match .
“From our point of view, we are just focused on improving on our previous performances and will try to play together as a team more consistently. In the last five encounters we’ve had with India in ODIs, we’ve won two and lost three.”
Although bowling still remains a concern for West Indies, their bowlers did play a key role in keeping the series alive with an improved showing towards the end of the previous match to restrict India (to 288 for seven). India, at one stage, were placed at a commanding 194 for 3 in the 36th over.
The onus would once again be on the likes of Ravi Rampaul, Jason Holder and Sunil Narine to keep Indian batsmen at bay.
Apart from the trio, the occasion also demands skipper Dwayne Bravo to come up with a performance befitting of a captain. Neither with the bat nor with the ball has Bravo done anything worth significance in the two one-dayers so far.
For someone who is well acquainted with Indian conditions, following his consistent shows in the IPL, Bravo should already have played a major role in the ongoing series. He still has one last chance, as it would certainly do the visitors’ confidence a world of good before their tour of New Zealand.
West Indies have enjoyed no success at all in ODIs since the captaincy baton was passed on to Bravo. It’s up to him as to whether he can rise to the occasion, be a true leader and guide his team to what would be a fascinating series victory.
With the final ODI being a day match, toss would play a crucial role and the team winning it would definitely like to exploit the early morning conditions. There is a possibility that the teams will have to contend with overnight dew.
So bowling first will be the obvious choice of the team that wins the toss. For India, batting second will be a safer option as their bowlers haven’t done a very good job lately while defending totals.
India (likely): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma/Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami
West Indies (likely): Johnson Charles, Kieran Powell, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Veerasammy Permaul
Match starts: 9 am