IND v WI, 3rd ODI: Series in pocket, time to test bench strength

Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Kuldeep Yadav could return for India for the third ODI against West Indies on Friday.

Virat Kohli hasn't sizzled with the bat in the ODI series so far, and will hope to turn it around on Friday. - PTI

Minutes after winning the second ODI against the West Indies, India captain Rohit Sharma hinted that there will again be a change in the opening slot. “Shikhar should be back…” he said, indicating that Shikhar Dhawan will be back in action for the final game on Friday after missing out on the first two fixtures due to COVID-19.

Having already clinched the three-match series 2-0, it is a dead rubber for the Indian team, but then, keeping in mind the fact that the next few months are going to be extremely busy and challenging, the team management may want to check its bench strength.

“We don’t mind losing a few games trying out a few things. Because it is important to look at the long-term goals. We will see what works out well for the team combination,” Rohit said.

ALSO READ - The rise and rise of Prasidh Krishna

There is a possibility of including Kuldeep Yadav in the final eleven. The seasoned spinner has not played international cricket for a few months due to surgery, and now that he is part of the squad, the team management plans to slowly draft him into playing eleven, again.

In the first two outings, Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar fared well, providing the team with much-needed breakthroughs. With more limited-overs tournaments lined up, it would be an ideal opportunity to find out where the third spinner, Kuldeep, stands after recovery.

Middle-order woes

In the batting department, the team will be expecting Virat Kohli to strike form. It has been quite a while since Kohli reached the three-figure mark and going forward, he will have to step up and marshal the innings. Similarly, there are issues to address in the middle-order. While K. L. Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav had rather decent outings on Wednesday, the team has often suffered with its middle-order in crunch times, and that’s a major area of concern going ahead. It will be interesting to see whether the team management chooses to play Shreyas Iyer, who is also out of isolation after contracting COVID-19, and if he does play, where he is slotted.

ALSO READ - Down and out: What has gone wrong for the West Indies?

The West Indies, on the other hand, will aim to put the house in order. With the series already lost, it will be hoping to play aggressively and ensure a consolation win. Even though the bowlers have been very disciplined and consistent, West Indies batters have failed to stay at the crease for the entire 50 overs, and that is one of the major problems. After missing out on the second ODI due to a niggle, it needs to be seen whether Pollard will be available for the last game. The focus will also be on Nicholas Pooran, Shai Hope and Akeal Hosein. Neither Pooran nor Hope could convert starts into big runs, and in the fag end of the series, they would be hoping to make it count.

The bowling department looks well placed with Jason Holder spearheading the pace attack, along with Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph. They have been able to make an impact, and going forward, the target will be to keep the momentum going.

On paper, it may be a dead rubber, but both teams have plenty to ponder, keeping longer-term objectives in mind.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :