Can the West Indies repeat Sunday’s showing?

5th ODI Match facts

Venue: Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica
Date and time: July 6 (Thursday); 09:00 local, 14:00 GMT and 19:30 IST

The main picture

The whole picture of this five-ODI series has changed, thanks to the West Indies’ dramatic 11-run victory last Sunday, in the fourth ODI. It was a strange match which had both teams failing to make even 200—the home team batted the full 50 overs and scored only 189/9—and providing a low-scoring thriller decided on the anti-penultimate ball of the match. A virtual four-ODI series, following the washed out first one-dayer, stands at 1-2 ahead of the fifth and final ODI at the Sabina Park.

We are seeing a pattern with this Indian one-day side, who, if their top order doesn’t fire, are half the team they otherwise are. In almost each one of India’s last nine ODIs, starting with the Champions Trophy 2017, the openers have provided their team with good starts (136, 138, 23, 87, 0, 132, 114, 11, and 10) and Virat Kohli, batting at No. 3, has been in good touch as well. When opposition teams fail to dislodge the troika of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli cheaply, they usually suffer. On the flip side, if you take early wickets, then you are in business, as the Windies found out last Sunday in Antigua.

Therefore, the mantra for the home team has to be no different for the Jamaica ODI, the outcome of which might well be decided by the battle upfront in the Indian innings. Though they posted only 189 on the board in Antigua, the West Indies top order gave a good account of themselves. Kyle Hope (35), Evin Lewis (35), Shai Hope (25), and Roston Chase (24) all got off to decent starts and the hosts were in a good position (117/2) heading into the final 20 overs.

The fifth ODI is another cruncher for Jason Holder and co., who, however, will be confident of pulling off another upset. You expect India to bounce back strongly from what could be seen as a mere blip. But the fact that they are over-reliant on their top order means a West Indian win cannot be ruled out.

The weather forecast for Thursday (July 6) in Jamaica is sunny and clear skies. As far as the Sabina Park pitch is concerned, it’s arguably the most seamer-friendly pitch and pacey in the Caribbean at present. These two teams have met eight times at this venue, and West Indies lead the head-to-head by 4-2, with two matches getting abandoned.

Fifth ODI, probable playing XIs

The West Indies put out their best playing XI on Sunday and have no reason to change what is now a winning combination for the final ODI.

WI probable XI: 1. Jason Holder (c), 2. Kyle Hope, 3. Evin Lewis, 4. Shai Hope (wk), 5. Roston Chase, 6. Jason Mohammed, 7. Rovman Powell, 8. Devendra Bishoo, 9. Alzarri Joseph, 10. Kesrick Williams, and 11. Ashley Nurse

Actual playing XI: West Indies unchanged from last match. Refer above.

India will have come into this ODI series thinking that they can test their bench strength. But with this series now on the line, they can ill afford to experiment too much. Dinesh Karthik failed in the only ODI he has played since being picked in India’s Champions Trophy squad. And though leaving him out will be harsh, the Indian team management might look at the long-term option of Rishabh Pant, who has yet to make his One-Day International debut.

Other than this possible change, the rest of the XI who featured on Sunday are likely to be retained.

India’s playing XI for the fifth ODI: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Ajinkya Rahane, 3. Shikhar Dhawan, 4. Dinesh Karthik/Rishabh Pant, 5. MS Dhoni, 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Ravindra Jadeja, 9. Umesh Yadav, 10. Mohammed Shami, and 11. Kuldeep Yadav

Actual Indian playing XI: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Ajinkya Rahane, 3. Shikhar Dhawan, 4. Dinesh Karthik, 5. MS Dhoni, 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Ravindra Jadeja, 9. Umesh Yadav, 10. Mohammed Shami, and 11. Kuldeep Yadav

Prediction

Team India, as we all know too well, are the strongest team on paper. But because of the middle order’s fragility and inconsistency, any team will fancy their chances of beating the Men in Blue. And the West Indies are no different. I expect a close contest on Thursday, when a West Indian win will see the spoils shared 2-2 and an Indian win will hand them a 1-3 series victory.

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