West Indies scoring more than 300 in the first two ODIs might have prompted India to recall rested fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the remainder of the series, according to West Indies coach Stuart Law. West Indies lost the first ODI by a big margin despite making 322, and tied the second by matching India's 321.
"Yeah I'd like to think so," Law said on the eve of the third ODI in Pune. "That's probably the reason why they've called back their two most experienced one-day bowlers. We came here understanding that it was going to be tough, but to our credit we haven't shied away from it. We've understood it, we've asked questions and had numerous honest discussions about how to improve and how to tackle the Indian team. And it's a credit to our players to manufacture change in the bowling line-up after two games.
"So yeah, hopefully we are getting the Indians to ask questions to themselves. They're giving us plenty of questions to ask ourselves, but at this stage we're coming up with pretty good answers. I know it's a tight series, we have still gotta win to level it tomorrow, so we understand the enormity of it and we're not backing down."
West Indies have shown remarkable resistance against India's bowling combinations so far, particularly the middle order that has had to tackle three kinds of spinners. But at no point have they been under pressure to rebuild an innings, which could be a challenge as India's more experienced fast bowlers take the new ball in Pune. Law doesn't believe the batting approach will be too different on Saturday, particularly for Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope, their best batsmen on tour so far.
"I don't think the pressure goes away no matter who you play against," Law said. "I've listened to commentary, I've listened to numerous talk shows, talking about the match-up between West Indies and India - and not too many people have given us a chance of competing in this series. But that's fuel to our boys' fire. They like being written out of the contest, and it gives an opportunity to go out and play good cricket.
Law wasn't allowed in the dressing room for the first two ODIs because of a two-match ban he had picked up during the second Test in Hyderabad and, as such, the third ODI is a return for him. The coach downplayed the suggestion that this absence was a factor in West Indies failing to win the second ODI.
"I have missed being part of the dressing room. Not sure if most boys have missed me. And looking back, now in Pune [with the sights], maybe I should have held back a bit and got banned here!" Law joked. "Nah, Vizag and Guwahati were great but I would rather be at the dressing room. You get a different perspective on TV, which I have managed to talk into in the training.
"But to get back into the dressing room...the dressing room is running by itself. The players have played enough cricket and understand how and what's needed to be done. It's on us, as coaches, to facilitate what the players need to do to produce the best out in the field. I don't need to say much. I don't think the dynamics in the dressing room will change."
His absence could also have been offset by the presence of Marlon Samuels who, Law said, had given a "different role" on this tour - one that is more inclined towards mentorship. As a batsman, Samuels has also been tasked with tackling spin, but he hasn't batted more than 10 balls in the series.
"You can write him off at your own peril. He's one of those players who stands up on big occasions," Law said. "Every game we play from hereon is a final, and we all know what Marlon can do in the finals.
"I've given him a different role on this tour. He is basically here to help the young kids. We have a very inexperienced squad. He needs to help those young guys learn very quickly on the field and he's doing a great job. He has got a bigger role now, other than just playing cricket and scoring runs. I think he started looking really good the other night. Kuldeep - he's having a little trouble reading him. He'll take time but Marlon is a good player of spin. He looks like he has improved from the first game to the second."