Can West Indies learn from India?
Saturday, June 11, North Sound
Start time 0900 (1300 GMT)
West Indies with Chris Gayle are competitive at times. West Indies without Gayle have seemed as flat as a flawed artist who lost whatever little inspiration he had. The familiar script has played out: there have been few partnerships of substance, the precious few have been broken at the wrong time, and the house has collapsed in a heap. The bowlers have not been getting enough breakthroughs, when they have managed to, they haven't been able to sustain any pressure. Like a closed loop, West Indies continue to stumble from one failure to another.
Men placed in seemingly hopeless situations have no choice but to cling on to hope, and that is what Darren Sammy has been doing. After every loss, he puts on a brave face and undertakes an honest search for positives. When the execution is flawed, he talks about intent being there. He wants Ramnaresh Sarwan to play the role of a finisher; Sarwan's strike-rate has remained stuck in the early 60s.
Not that West Indies haven't had their moments so far. Not often does one find them in a commanding position of 175 for 2 with 14 overs to go. Nor do they often have the opposition on the mat at four down with more than a 100 still needed. Such potential match-winning positions have been frittered away though, allowing an Indian side missing several regulars to be on the verge of their third ODI series win in four tours.
While most attention has been focussed on West Indies' woes, Suresh Raina's side has efficiently chugged to three victories. The difference between the two teams has been India's ability to shut the opposition out, something West Indies badly need to do. There were concerns before the tour began about how India would fare with their depleted squad, and so far, the bench has showed it has strength, albeit against a team ranked six places below them.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies: LLWWL
Nothing epitomises the spirit of this young Indian team better than the continuing growth of Virat Kohli. He realised he was risking throwing it all away, and has moulded himself into a batsman who is expected to bat through the innings and finish games. He did that in the previous match, also becoming the third-fastest Indian to 2000 ODI runs. The expectations will be the same tomorrow.
Sammy reminded Ramnaresh Sarwan in Trinidad that he was once compared to Michael Bevan as a capable limited-overs finisher. Sarwan has done it on numerous occasions, like when he took West Indies to a thrilling win against India in 2002 with a last-ball boundary. The Sarwan of old was classy and combative. The runs are still coming, albeit a lot more slowly and the fight doesn't seem to be there, especially when it is sorely needed in Gayle's absence. Can the vintage Sarwan make a re-appearance?
West Indies made a couple of changes to the squad, resting Dwayne Bravo and Ravi Rampaul. Sammy said the pitch in Antigua would have more life in it, which makes the decision to rest Rampaul seem a little strange. Darren Bravo should return tomorrow, making it unlikely that Danza Hyatt will make his ODI debut.
West Indies (possible): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Kirk Edwards, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Andre Russell/Anthony Martin, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Carlton Baugh (wk), 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Devendra Bishoo.
With Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth set to miss the Tests due to injuries, India would want to give Ishant Sharma a go during this series, considering there is no warm-up game before the next leg of the tour. Amit Mishra's four wickets in the second ODI mean an in-form R Ashwin will continue to miss out.
India (possible): 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 S Badrinath, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina (capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Munaf Patel.
Stats and trivia
- In the previous ODI at the Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, Darren Sammy smashed an unbeaten 58 off 24 balls at No. 9 against South Africa in 2010. It remains his highest ODI score.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.