India’s recent shows of resilience, evident from its confident fightbacks in T20 series against Bangladesh and the West Indies, will hold it in good stead in the third and final one-day international against the Caribbeans at the Barabati Stadium here on Sunday.
With the series evenly poised at 1-1, the decider may turn Barabati Stadium into a pressure cooker.
Having been there, done that, the Indians know their job well.
“Even the last match was a do-or-die (affair) for us with the series on the line. We will play with the similar mindset. When the stakes are high, I feel all the players pull their socks up, put up their hands… We will try to create that magical moment so that it can affect the team in a positive way,” Shreyas Iyer said.
Nearly the whole squad, barring Rohit Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami and K.L Rahul, turned up for an optional practice session on Saturday.
The dew factor, which comes into play here as early as 5pm, may play a decisive role. The Indian side is ready for the challenge, though.
“I think it's going to be really fast in the second innings and the dew factor plays a massive role. We have played here before against Sri Lanka and in the evening, there was dew in the outfield. The fielding coach literally made it wet and we took catches. So we are actually prepared. Whatever bad the circumstances would be we are ready for it,” said Iyer.
Rohit and Rahul’s top order belligerence and Iyer and Rishabh Pant’s responsible follow-up act have helped India. It will assume importance again as the Virat Kohli-led side will look to out-bat the Windies.
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Captain Kohli’s form in this series, he has scored 4 and 0, and track record on this ground, where he has gathered a total of 34 runs in three ODIs and one T20I, may not be great but the champion batsman, who spent a considerable period knocking the ball in the nets on Saturday, has the ability to break the shackles anytime.
Shami and hat-trick man Kuldeep Yadav will be keen to continue their good work as India hopes to win its 10th straight bilateral series over Windies.
Navdeep Saini, who replaced Deepak Chahar, will remain optimistic to make his ODI debut.
So far, West Indies has given India a close chase and need to give a final push to get its first series win over the Men in Blue after 2006.
Windies can surprise
With dangerous batsmen like Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Kieron Pollard and bowlers like Sheldon Cottrell and Keemo Paul in its ranks, West Indies has the wherewithal to achieve a rare feat of stopping India at its home after 2002-03.
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The Carribeans, however, need to better their fielding, especially catching, to complement the other two departments of the game. It will be interesting to see how the fresh-looking pitch, which is expected to produce another run glut, behaves as the ground will be used for a cricket match after being hit by Cyclone Fani in May.
The floodlights, some of which have been changed after being damaged in the cyclone, will be under watch as well. The organisers are confident the lights will not let down around 38,000 eager fans who will watch an international match after two long years.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini.
West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Sunil Ambris, Shai Hope, Khary Pierre, Roston Chase, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Romario Shepherd, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Hayden Walsh Jr.
Match officials: David Boon (match referee), Shaun George and Nitin Menon (on-field umpires), Rod Tucker (TV umpire), Anil Choudhary (fourth umpire)
Match starts at 1:30pm.
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