West Indies v India, 4th ODI, Antigua July 1, 2017

Will India test their bench strength?


Match Facts

Sunday, July 2, 2017
Start time 0900 local (1300 GMT)

Will India finally give Rishabh Pant a game? © Getty Images

Big Picture

West Indies must feel this is just a surreal nightmare. They are playing in the rainy season and at 9am in front of no crowds to adjust to the opposition's schedule and to finish at least half the match before the opposition fans go to sleep. In the first half they try their best, flailing their limbs, trying to wake up from the nightmare, trying to bowl with discipline, and then when seemingly nobody is watching - little live crowd, little TV following in India - they slip back to the nightmare, with their inexperienced batting letting them down.

Friday was their best chance to put one past India - they had got the first use of a damp pitch and had taken two early wickets - but they seem almost scared of aiming too high. If you looked at the fields and the kind of bowling West Indies employed, you wouldn't guess it was a difficult pitch to bat on. They have now not won an ODI series in three years, and are playing like it.

India, on the other hand, are enjoying a dream. Pristine islands, no crowd to haunt them for selfies, a small press contingent, an easy opposition, and their internal troubles far far away for the moment. The only dilemma they might be grappling with is when to give Rishabh Pant a go. They have avoided adventure on the field so far, but if they don't try out Pant, now that they can't lose the series, this trip will be wasted. India need to keep giving the youngsters game time to stay prepared for the contingency of realising in early 2019 that one of their two middle-order giants can't make it to the World Cup. The other, smaller question will be if they should allow Kedar Jadhav more batting responsibility higher up in the order and test him for a bigger role.

Form guide

West Indies LLWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)

In the spotlight

It's like wine, MS Dhoni said, referring to getting better with age, after he had converted a slow start into a near run-a-ball 78 and had given India a match-winning total. However, he is an uncorked wine; at this age - 35 now, 37 during the next World Cup - Dhoni will know he is as good as his last couple of innings. The good thing is, his keeping has shown no signs of deterioration and he was back to providing running commentary as he kept wicket in the third ODI. He will need all this in the coming two years if he is to make it to the 2019 World Cup.

Jason Holder has an unenviable task of leading an inexperienced West Indies side, and he tried to do the noble thing of leading from the front. However, he might perhaps be better off being a little more practical and not bowl himself at the death. In the last two ODIs, he has been targeted by India. In Port-of-Spain he had to be taken off after he bowled three beamers - one of them was so slow Dhoni pulled it. His 4.5 overs at the death in the last two matches have cost 65 runs.

Team news

West Indies made three changes in the last match. None of the newcomers did awfully. Kesrick Williams had an impressive debut, bowling five overs in the last nine. It might just help them to stick with the same players for a while. The only question will be if they want Alzarri Joseph back.

West Indies (probable): 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Kyle Hope, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Jason Mohammed, 5 Roston Chase, 6 Jason Holder (capt.), 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Ashley Nurse, 9 Kesrick Williams, 10 Devendra Bishoo, 11 Miguel Cummins,

Will either Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik get a chance now that India can't lose the series? Is there scope to try Ravindra Jadeja again?

India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli (capt.), 4 Yuvraj Singh/Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Umesh Yadav

Pitch and conditions

The previous ODI in North Sound was played on a damp pitch, which explains the low scores, but this one should be better to bat on.

Stats and trivia

  • MS Dhoni is now behind only Kumar Sangakkara for ODI runs as a wicketkeeper.
  • West Indies have lost 10 and won two ODIs in North Sound.


"We'll surely look into [making changes]. We have quite a few players who haven't had a game in a while."
Virat Kohli promises chances for those warming the bench

"We've got to come hard, we've got to address our batting. In the end we've got to bat well."
Jason Holder knows where the problem lies. Now on to solving it…

Fans in the Indian subcontinent will be able watch near-live clips of major events during the match on ESPNcricinfo, both on scorecard pages and story pages, and in case you miss watching the match live, you can catch all the highlights and stories told through videos on the site. And the entire series will be streamed live in the Indian subcontinent on ESPN.in and on SonyLIV

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ahmad on July 3, 2017, 6:58 GMT

    Cannot figure wh Rayadu avg 50 or Samson immensely talented selfless doesn't get priority over hugely overrated Kartic avg 28 SR 70-who has won nothing ever.

  • malhar1424912 on July 2, 2017, 15:29 GMT

    Insidehedge - yes we have played all this countries with big home advantage on slow and low tracks. Where you could come on front foot before bowler takes a stride. Windies cricket is badly struggling and nothing could help them earn tv rights .My whole point is international cricketing standards are going down all over the world if you leave england and Pakistan aside who play competitive and neutral cricket . which gives spectators rare hope of keeping international cricket alive. Something should be done to bring more life to international cricket and its viewers who don't follow leagues. But series like this are not helping the cause.

  • john on July 2, 2017, 12:58 GMT

    @MOHAMMAD ZAMIN:"The bowling is better but on a batting wicket the Indian spinners are next to useless." India have some good spinners in Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The only thing is India don't always play their best spinners and allow Ravichandran Ashwin to continue to play ODI cricket, like I have already mentioned R Ashwin should only be considered for tests in India and the other spinners should be considered overseas especially the wrist spinners. Kuldeep Yadav should be persisted with as he can only improve, Yuzvendra Chahal is a proven short form bowler and India need to give him more chances in ODI cricket, as he will be more effective in English, South African and Australian conditions than a off spinner like Ravichandran Ashwin ever will be. India will need better pace bowlers if they are to win the 2019 world cup in England, that is their greatest weakness. This is where bowlers like Shardul Thakur, Siddarth Kaul and Mohammed Siraj should play.

  • randolf on July 2, 2017, 12:54 GMT

    India cricket fans, please be careful what you're wishing for! You should be counting your lucky stars that you're endowed with "the best cricket management talent in the world", which has made India the cricket power house of the world (both financially and team strength); instead of making all sorts of wild demands on the team management, to do atrocious things like, "dropping MS Dhoni", who has done more for India cricket than anyone else - knowing that Dhoni is still "cricket young", still producing bountifully and still hungry to play! Your cricket is a classic case of India being exactly 180 degrees on the opposite side of the chaos here in the WI; where our management (C. Lloyd, D. Cameron, and now Courtney Browne) have literally gutted our best players from our team; and are replacing them with school boy cricket novices! And what's most outrageous about the matter, is the fact that they care not one iota about the cricket disaster that they've brought upon us. My Goodness!

  • Cricinfouser on July 2, 2017, 12:54 GMT

    yet again poor move by not including rishab pant in Indian team. keep repeating your bad move again n again and I will lost interest in cricket.

  • sanjyot47 on July 2, 2017, 12:44 GMT

    Still no Rishabh Pant?? What has happened to Kohli?? Why is he reluctant to hand him the debut??

  • doctor5828325 on July 2, 2017, 12:43 GMT

    Seriously guys I am be sure you can all be agree what does Ramesh Pant have to do to get game. He is future of Indian wicketkeeping. Krishnakumar karthik should not be given any more chance now, get Ramesh Pant in asap!

  • ganeyf on July 2, 2017, 12:42 GMT

    If India are afraid to give youngters chances and only want old experienced players then why are players like Mohammed Kaif and RP Singh and Harbhajan Singh not selected.

  • espana7736698 on July 2, 2017, 12:41 GMT

    Why Sarfaraz with RCB and Pant with India are out of Kohli's support?

  • girige6267264 on July 2, 2017, 12:40 GMT

    Actually yuvraj or Raina are key to India. They are. Lefties and bowl useful overs. They field well too. But they are declining and that's bad for India.

    Dhoni should take a new role. He need not be the hitter. What India needs is an anchor if quick wickets fall. After say shikar , Rohit, Rahul, Kohli msd should play long and deep. Then kedar and pandya can hit out.

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