As has always been said with the West Indies, you underestimate them at your own peril. And, India found that out in the last game when Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope shellacked their bowling unit to the tune of a 218-run partnership to overhaul what looked like a pretty competitive target of 288 at the halfway stage.
The eight-wicket loss at the Chepauk was India’s fourth consecutive ODI defeat on home soil and it once again proved that they aren’t going to win many limited-overs games if they continue to pick all-rounders over specialist bowlers. One of the reasons why India was so dominant in ODIs in the past couple of years was their spinners were giving them wickets in the middle-overs.
Virat Kohli had termed the duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as the X-factors of their side. That all changed during the 2019 World Cup when England made full use of the short boundaries and blunted them. Since then, the duo hasn’t played together as the team management continues to go with the defensive mindset of opting for a greater batting depth at the bargain of specialists.
The last time India and West Indies played an ODI at Vizag, more than 600 runs were scored, Virat Kohli and Shai Hope scored masterly hundreds and in the end, there was nothing to separate both the sides. With the visitors batting in pristine form and the pitch at Vizag expected to be flat, India will need all their bowling ammunition in order to stay alive in the series. Will they go with the attacking mindset and play the specialists? The approach could decide the narrative and the eventual outcome of the game.
The top six and fast bowlers pick themselves with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul opening the innings followed by Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Kedar Jadhav and Mohammed Shami and Deepak Chahar in the pacers department. The question that India will have to answer is whether they drop one of the all-rounders in Ravindra Jadeja and Shivam Dube in favour of another specialist spinner or not.
In the last ODI, Dube batted at eight and bowled 7.5 overs only to concede 68 runs while Jadeja returned with the figures of 0/58 in his 10 overs. He fared decently with the bat before being adjudged run-out under controversial circumstances. Yuzvendra Chahal is expected to be included at the expense of either of them.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja/Shivam Dube, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami
As for the West Indies, why change anything when it ain’t broken? The only point of contention could be around the opening spot where Brandon King might replace Sunil Ambris, who scored 9 in the last game. However, it has only been one game and Ambris could get another crack at proving his worth in Vizag.
Probable XI: Shai Hope (WK), Sunil Ambris, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Nicolas Pooran (WK), Kieron Pollard (C), Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh, Sheldon Cottrell, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph
Focus will be on:
Kuldeep Yadav (India)
There is something amiss whenever we see Kuldeep Yadav bowls these days. Maybe the batsmen have worked him out [which most of them have] and maybe he is just short of confidence or a combination of both. But, Kuldeep just doesn’t look the same bowler he was 10-11 months ago.
And, that’s the thing with mystery spinners. In a bid to stay relevant, you constantly need to upgrade your skills or else you’ll be found out. Kuldeep didn’t bowl that badly in Chennai but the fact that Hetmyer was picking him by coming to the pitch of the ball, showed batsmen are now feeling comfortable at handling him in the middle. Over to Kuldeep now to come up with something special!
Shimron Hetmyer (West Indies)
Hetmyer once again showed that if he can control his instincts a bit and aim for batting for a long period of time, he has all the ingredients of becoming one the best batsmen across all the formats. On a pitch where most of the batsmen were struggling to get their timing, Hetmyer was striking at over a hundred and with death-defying ease, and especially against spinners, where he was coming to the pitch of the ball to smoke them into the stands. That was vintage stuff! Can he do an encore in Vizag? We’ll wait and see.
139– That’s Virat Kohli’s average in five ODIs in Vizag. In 5 matches, the Indian captain has racked up 556 runs at an average 139.0 including three hundred and two half-centuries. His scores at the venue read- 118 v Australia, 2010, 117 v West Indies, 2011, 99 v West Indies, 2013, 65 v New Zealand, 2016-17 & 157 v West Indies, 2018.
2002- If West Indies manage to win in Vizag, it will be their first ODI series win in India since 2002.
2006- The last time West Indies won an ODI series against India.
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Match Timings – 13:30 local time, 08:00 AM GMT
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