It’s been over 15 years since India last lost two consecutive bilateral ODI series at home. it’s been over 30 years since India last lost five straight ODIs at home. But both those things may happen if they lose to West Indies in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday – they lost the last three matches to concede the series against Australia 3-2 in March.
Although Rohit Sharma has been off-colour so far against West Indies, the rest of the Indian batting contingent has displayed enough composure and grit for the spotlight to move away from the star opening batsman. KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Shivam Dube have all shown across the white-ball series that they could be relied on to take responsibility, but the same cannot be same about the team’s bowling. Virat Kohli’s template as captain has been to strangle teams in the middle overs after the new-ball bowlers do their job in their first spells, but with Jasprit Bumrah missing, the early wickets have been more difficult to come by.
It was on display in the first ODI, when the set West Indies batsmen played out the spin threat of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja with ease, despite plenty of turn on offer in Chennai. It forced Kohli to bowl out Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami before the slog overs, leaving young Dube with the task of bowling at the death. It was similar for India during the loss to Australia, where Vijay Shankar was often the go-to bowler at the back end.
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The only difference between India and the visitors in Chennai was the number of options each captain had, and West Indies’ seven-bowler plan helped Kieron Pollard use conditions to his advantage.
In the preceding T20I series, West Indies had gone into the final game on level terms and then fallen short. While they walk into the second game here with confidence, they need to make sure they don’t let the opposition batsmen settle in.
India LWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
nWest Indies WWWWL
In the spotlight
Is Shivam Dube a better all-round option than Vijay Shankar? An exciting half-century in the T20I series got people to sit up and take note, but his bowling hasn’t been terribly impressive. On his ODI debut, he made just nine with the bat and conceded nearly nine per over with the ball. There are question marks over his pace – late 120s – and whether he can bowl accurately enough, to the team’s fielding plans.
Shivam Dube gets into position to pull BCCI
Shai Hope has been one of the keys to West Indies’ success in recent times. Hope’s role as an anchor will be crucial once again, whether they bat first or chase. In his 218-run partnership – at a strike rate of over 100 – with Shimron Hetmyer in Chennai, Hope was calm in his approach, scoring at a strike rate in the 60s while allowing his partner to bloom. He rotates the strike well, allowing his big-hitting partners to have that safety net, and gives a blanket of security to the team.
India may return to their “Kul-Cha” plans, having failed to trouble West Indies with spin in the first ODI. That means either Dube or Jadeja may be left out to accommodate Yuzvendra Chahal.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Shivam Dube, 8 Ravindra Jadeja/Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mohammad Shami
Whether Evin Lewis has recovered from a right-knee injury is not yet known. If he has, then he’s likely to return to the XI in place of Sunil Ambris.
West Indies (probable) 1 Shai Hope, 2 Evin Lewis/Sunil Ambris, 3 Shimron Hetmyer, 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Roston Chase, 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Hayden Walsh Jr, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Stats and trivia
The last time an ODI was played – last year – in Visakhapatnam, India and West Indies battled hard for a tie. With West Indies needing five to win off the final ball, Hope, who made 123, slapped a boundary through point to level the scores.
Teams batting first have won just one of the last six ODIs played in Visakhapatnam
The average first-innings total at the ground since 2010 is 275
Virat Kohli averages 139 at the ground, having scored 556 runs – including three centuries, a 99 and a 65 – in his five outings in Visakhapatnam