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December 7, 2011
Match factsThursday, December 8
Darren Sammy's reactions at the end of each game on this tour have been fascinating to watch. Resignation after the hammering in the Eden Garden's Test, unabashed school-boy glee following the nerve-jangling draw in Mumbai, and agony after being denied by Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron in Cuttack. The best of the lot came in Ahmedabad, though, when Sammy lasered down the stumps from mid-on to run out Rohit Sharma and all but confirm West Indies' first win on tour. He leapt, yelled, pumped his fists and could barely control the adrenaline rush as he charged towards his team-mates. Sammy will be determined to recreate that feeling with the series still up for grabs.
West Indies have played better cricket than the hosts in the ODI series, but that isn't saying much. Their top order has been asked to bat in all three games - a rare streak of extended generosity on the flat decks of the subcontinent - but has floundered against India's young seamers, before steadily losing momentum against spin in the middle overs. They haven't been as disadvantaged by the dew as expected in any of the matches, yet have allowed the action to drift along after making major incisions with the new ball. The catching has been poor, the captaincy worse, and on both counts Sammy has been the biggest culprit.
The visitors' lapses mean India need only one win to take the series, but concerns abound for the home side ahead of the Indore ODI. The 2-1 scoreline doesn't quite convey how much they have been stretched. West Indies had no business letting India's last pair sneak home in the opening ODI, and have toyed with the hosts' pop-gun attack in the slog overs in both games since. Bowling meltdowns in the death have become so routine that India don't panic when it happens anymore (think of the World Cup final). The bigger worry is the prolonged top order funk, and more specifically the lack of runs from Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. They have two games to hit upon some form ahead of far sterner tests in Australia. Will they shake off the rust in Indore?
Form guideIndia LWWWW (Most recent first)
In the spotlight
His fans have been clamouring for this day for months on end, often disregarding form, and at times even ignoring his injury status. Irfan Pathan is back in the mix, but crucially, he is in form and fitter than he has been at any stage since he last played for India. His resurgence has come the hard way, with wickets by the bunch in the Ranji season, and the banana swing that made him such a rage in 2003-4 has also shown promising signs of reappearance. Can he transfer the rhythm and skill to the white ball?
At Motera, Sunil Narine walked up to the cauldron like he belonged and performed without a fuss. The much-feared topspinner made an early appearance, but he got his wickets with an offbreak and a carom ball. If the ball stays dry in Indore, expect him to parade a few more of his unique variations.
Pitch and conditions
The Motera game featured strange crop patterns on the outfield as the groundsmen went a touch overboard with their creativity. There will, however, be no such gimmickry at the Holkar Stadium where heavy seasonal dew in the evenings has dissuaded chief curator Samandar Singh Chouhan and his team from removing any grass from the outfield. According to Mail Today, Chouhan is betting big on an anti-dew chemical that has been routinely sprayed on the outfield in the lead-up to the game. Expect India to field again if they win the toss, unless Sehwag believes batting in the afternoon will offer a better chance to regain some form.
West Indies' best batsman on the tour, Darren Bravo, is out with a hamstring injury. The replacement is most likely to be Adrian Barath, though Kieran Powell deserves a chance after batting impressively in the Tests.
West Indies (possible): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Adrian Barath / Kieran Powell, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Danza Hyatt, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Sunil Narine
Umesh Yadav is flying to Australia early, which means Varun Aaron has the chance to return to the XI. It will be a tricky call for Sehwag to make: Irfan Pathan and Vinay Kumar will both expect to play since they are the more experienced seamers in the ODI side. But neither is going to Australia for the Tests; Abhimanyu Mithun and Aaron, who are likely to tussle for the third seamer's spot in Indore, are.
India (possible): 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Irfan Pathan, 9 R Ashwin, 10 R Vinay Kumar, 11 Varun Aaron / Abhimanyu Mithun
Stats and trivia
"It's difficult to say I am satisfied when you are losing. But we have shown a lot of spirit and created opportunities to win."
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, repeats something he and Sammy have said all tour
"It feels great to be leading the Indian attack. The new ball suits me very well because I am more a swing bowler."
Vinay Kumar is keen to continue new-ball duties
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