West Indies without Gayle on his home turf
Thursday, June 16, Jamaica
Start time 0900 (1400 GMT)
West Indies go 0-3 down in the five-ODI contest. Their batsmen are inept against spin on slow pitches. Where on earth is the home advantage? Their outcricket is from an obsolete era. Too many dot balls faced. Chris Gayle is missing. Darren Sammy remains earnest and finds positives very few can see.
Then they win a game, the first dead rubber. Suddenly they have an opportunity to secure a 2-3 result. That doesn't look so bad, does it? And after enough time passes, only the 2-3 will endure, the desperation will linger only in the memories of those who were faithful enough to watch it all. And the faithful have been scarce this summer.
That could have been a description of West Indies' plight against Pakistan earlier in the season, but it isn't. Their struggle against India has had an almost identical tale - the starkest difference perhaps being the start times of the matches: 09.30 for Pakistan, 09.00 for India. The hosts will hope for an identical ending too, for that would mean victory against India at Sabina Park on Thursday.
The person Kingston and most of the Caribbean want to see, however, will not play at Sabina Park. Once again Gayle has been ignored for selection. He was supposed to have had his meeting with the WICB the day after West Indies won the fourth ODI. Not a peep, tweet or officious media release has been forthcoming from either party. The fifth ODI, frankly, matters little now, but the standoff continuing to weaken West Indies during the Test series will take this absurdity to an extreme.
Let not the muck West Indies are stuck in take away from India's effort. The players in Suresh Raina's side had careers to revive and places to fight for. Most of them have strengthened their cases. S Badrinath and Yusuf Pathan haven't, though, and the stakes will be that much higher for them in the final ODI.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies: WLLLW
Ishant Sharma had figures of 1 for 60 in the fourth ODI, his first game of the series, when West Indies scored at just under five an over on average. What those stats won't tell you is that he got the ball to rise sharply from not that short a length, when Parthiv Patel was stooping to collect Praveen Kumar's deliveries. Ishant bowled at brisk pace too - in the 135-140 kph range - and hustled most West Indies batsmen. Now if he could only sort out that persistent no-ball problem …
Adrian Barath hasn't played for West Indies since February. He suffered a hamstring injury before their World Cup campaign began and has been sidelined since. He's finished his recovery, spent a week training at the High Performance Centre and is ready to slot in alongside Lendl Simmons at the top of the batting order. His inclusion gives West Indies a more productive option than Kirk Edwards or Danza Hyatt did.
West Indies will replace Hyatt, who opened in the previous game, with Barath, while the rest of the batting order picks itself. With three seam-bowling allrounders - Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Sammy - certain to play, though, there's space for only two out of legspinners Anthony Martin and Devendra Bishoo, and fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul, who was recalled after being given a rest. Martin took 4 for 36 in Antigua and should retain his spot, so the toss up is between Roach and Rampaul.
West Indies: 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Adrian Barath, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Darren Sammy (capt), 10 Ravi Rampaul/Kemar Roach, 11 Anthony Martin.
Fast bowler Vinay Kumar and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha are the only Indians who haven't played on tour yet. They could get a look in at Sabina Park.
India: 1 Parthiv Patel/Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 2 Manoj Tiwary, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 S Badrinath, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Suresh Raina (capt), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar/Vinay Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Amit Mishra.
Stats and trivia
- West Indies have won seven of the previous eight matches they played at Sabina Park. Four of those victories, however, were against Zimbabwe, Ireland and Canada.
- Ramnaresh Sarwan has scored the most ODI runs at this venue - 556 at an average of 61.77. Gayle and Chanderpaul are second and third, but they won't be playing.
- Ravi Rampaul averages 15.14 for his seven wickets at Sabina Park, perhaps part of the reason West Indies recalled him for the final game. Dwayne Bravo has the most ODI wickets here - 13 in nine games.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo