5th ODI: Wounded India face upbeat West Indies
Kingston: Smarting from the defeat in the previous match, India will be eager for revenge and finish the series with a victory when they take on West Indies in their fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) here on Thursday.
The visitors lost the fourth ODI by 11 runs in North Sound, Antigua after some extremely slow batting while chasing a low target of 190 runs.
That defeat took some of the gloss off India’s dominating performances in the previous matches of the series which they currently lead 2-1. The opener of the five-match series was a washout falling victim to rain.
Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni racked up the dubious distinction of scoring the slowest half-century by an Indian batsman in more than a decade with a painstaking, snail-like innings of 54 runs which included a single boundary over 114 deliveries.
Known for his hard-hitting batting in the closing stages and his ability to chase down challenging targets, Dhoni will be eager to produce another trademark high tempo innings and redeem himself.
In-form opener Ajinkya Rahane was the only other Indian batsman who managed to stand up to the West Indies bowlers with a patient innings of 60 runs off 91 deliveries.
The rest of the Indian batsmen failed miserably. Seemingly cruising to a comfortable victory with 31 runs needed in the last five overs and five wickets in hand, India suffered a spectacular lower-order batting collapse.
The visitors lost their last five wickets in as many overs to be all out for 178 in reply to the West Indies total of 189/9.
The top-order batsmen did not cover themselves in glory either. India got off to a bad start as apart from Rahane, no other Indian top order batsmen managed to reach double- figures.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan, skipper Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik departed in quick succession to leave the visitors struggling at 47/3 in the 13th over.
In sharp contrast to the batsmen, the Indian bowlers have been consistent during this series.
Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar did well in the second and third ODIs before being replaced by Bengal pacer Mohammed Shami in the fouth game. Although Shami did not bag any wickets, he was quite economical, giving away just 33 runs in his 10 overs.
Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya — the other pacers in the Indian arsenal — are also in good form.
They would need to produce another consistent performance in order to ensure that the Indians close off the series on a positive note.
The West Indies, meanwhile, will be in an upbeat mood. Thoroughly outplayed in the previous matches, the hosts have finally managed to find some reason to be cheerful.
West Indies skipper Jason Holder led from the front during the fourth ODI with a five-wicket haul and the hosts will be expecting him to deliver a similar performance.
Fellow pacer Alzarri Joseph has also done reasonably well during the series. He picked up two wickets in the second ODI but was a tad expensive which prompted the hosts to drop him from the third match.
However, he enjoyed a successful return to the playing XI in the last game with another two-wicket haul.
The West Indies, however, need to do better in the batting department.
Shai Hope is among the few West Indies batsmen who have shown some form with an 81-run innings during the second ODI. He has struggled a bit since then, but has the ability to post a significant innings once gets going.
West Indies openers Evin Lewis and Kyle Hope have been inconsistent and will surely be eager to post much better contributions in the fifth game.
Jason Mohammed, one of the key batsmen for the hosts in the middle-order, has also not been up to the mark, except for a 61-ball 40 in the third ODI.