Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ENG-W v IND-W (1)
Duleep Trophy (1)
Marsh Cup (1)
NZ-A in IND (1)
PAK v ENG (1)
IND v AUS (1)
WT20 WC QLF (4)
WI-W v NZ-W (1)
Bangladesh in United Arab Emirates (1)
RHF Trophy (1)
Road Safety (2)
Legends League (1)
India 265 (Shreyas 80, Pant 56, Holder 4-34) beat West Indies 169 (Odean 36, Prasidh 3-27, Siraj 3-29) by 96 runs
India completed a clean sweep of the ODI series with yet another win from early strife of a top-order collapse. Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer pulled India up from 42 for 3, Washington Sundar and Deepak Chahar provided late runs, and then the bowlers ran through West Indies to deny them a single score of 200 in the series.
This was yet another satisfying win for the team management from a team-building point of view: apart from yet another middle-order comeback, they welcomed back Kuldeep Yadav, who bowled with zip and took two wickets in his first international since last July, when he was part of a second-string squad sent to Sri Lanka.
All three pitches in the series have been challenging ones. The extra bounce and dual pace off this surface kept the tall West Indies bowlers in the game. Not only did India make a host of changes to their XI, they also chose to bat first to test themselves in possible dewy conditions in the evening.
Once Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach found their lengths after the first two overs, they proved to be a difficult proposition for the batters. The wickets themselves were not off magic deliveries. Rohit Sharma played a loose drive to chop on, Virat Kohli tickled a ball down the leg side to get out for a duck in the same Joseph over, and Shikhar Dhawan top-edged a cut to slip. However, it was the dot balls in between because of the tackiness and extra bounce that created the pressure.
On this pitch, back from his opening duties in the second ODI, Pant looked the most comfortable even as Iyer scratched around early on. Without playing a shot in anger - an upper-cut here, a targeting of left-arm spin there - Pant scored 56 at better than a-run-a-ball. Iyer found himself stuck on the other end, faced 84 balls in 20.3-over partnership and needed some early luck to survive.
Pant, though, perished to the late-cut to a flatter trajectory from legspinner Hayden Walsh jnr, a shot that had brought him runs. This allowed West Indies a way back in as India kept trying to press on. Suryakumar Yadav ended up slicing an aerial cover drive, and Iyer found long-off just before the 40th over, which is when an extra fielder goes back. Iyer scored 55 off the last 51 balls he faced.
Washington and Chahar then provided another recovery with a 53-run seventh-wicket stand in just 8.3 overs. Chahar in particular looked threatening with four fours and two sixes in his run-a-ball 38, but Holder intervened with a slower bouncer to dismiss him. Kuldeep met the same fate. Washington, though, batted into the last over for 33 off 34. It was, again, Holder, who restricted the damage he might have caused in the end.
Kuldeep was not the only bowler making a comeback. Deepak Chahar, who nearly won India the last ODI he played, has been kept out for more hit-the-deck bowlers. For this match, he replaced Shardul Thakur, the bowler who most closely resembles his style. Chahar, though, gets more swing than Thakur and relies on fuller lengths. They accounted for Brandon King and Shamarh Brooks in the same over, the fifth of the innings. Both of them failed to catch up with the away movement.
Even before that, Mohammed Siraj had accounted for Shai Hope with the wobble-seam nipbacker for the second time this series, making it the first time since October 2018 that India had taken more than two powerplay wickets. Again it was not just the wicket-taking deliveries. They regularly hit the higher part of the bat with the extra bounce in the pitch.
If these two were troubling the batters with extra bounce, Prasidh Krishna was going to be a handful. Darren Bravo and Holder will testify, getting the higher parts of their outside edges for catches to slips.
It was a good time for Kuldeep to ease his way back in. He consistently made the ball drop shorter than the batters' expectations, getting sharp turn and bounce. Fabian Allen was done in by a wrong'un, playing for the turn back in on the big drive, but getting a faint outside edge. Nicholas Pooran fell to the orthodox delivery, done in again by the dip, edging to first slip.
Odean Smith presented a nice little challenge from 82 for 7, hitting Kuldeep for three sixes in his 18-ball 36. This is the kind of pressure you want to see Kuldeep under and see how he holds up. However, it was Siraj, who came back and ended the fun with his hard lengths, drawing a catch to cover an over after Smith was dropped at mid-off.
Joseph and Walsh jnr frustrated India even as the dew set in, but they were never going to challenge the target. Siraj and Prasidh came back to end the proceedings with hostile short bowling.
Customize Your Page
Simmons: West Indies' batting a 'huge concern', needs 'urgent attention'
Head coach doesn't have any quick fixes and admits closing the team's High Performance Centre is "one of the downfalls"
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav strike old form, Prasidh Krishna shows future promise
Also pieces of India's middle-order puzzle start to come together in the ODI clean sweep against West Indies
Shreyas Iyer soaks up the pressure to offer reminder of his middle-order chops
It was not a flawless innings, and by his own admission came to an end with a "very bad shot", but he showed glimpses of what he could bring to India's middle order
KL Rahul and Axar Patel ruled out of T20Is against West Indies
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Hooda brought in as replacements