Port of Spain: Re-entrant skipper Shikhar Dhawan will again try to make a statement as the Indian team, made up of fringe players, takes on the West Indies in the second ODI here on Sunday.
After winning the first game by three runs, another win will see India win a consecutive ODI series in the Caribbean.
Whether it was Dhawan and comeback man Shubman Gill’s aggressive opening stance, or Mohammad Siraj’s emergence as the bowling attack leader in the absence of the veteran Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, India ticked all the boxes on Friday to lead 1-0. in the series of three games.
First up was Gill as the highly regarded opener, who returned to the ODI folder after more than 19 months, grabbed the opportunity with both hands with a career best 64.
Picked in front of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan, Gill made it look easy to hit when most of them struggled after the ball softened in the Queen’s Park Oval.
During his knockout, he scored on a run-a-ball and broke six boundaries and a pair of sixes, and it took a run to end his stay in the middle.
It’s up to Gill to turn his good starts into big hits, and he would certainly strive to do that and cement his place in the team.
Dhawan played the perfect second fiddle to Gill as the opening score was worth 119 from 106 balls, but the senior batter narrowly missed his 18th century.
With Shreyas Iyer also finding form with half a century, it was a perfect top three act by the Indian team but a mid-order collapse ensued and India settled for 308 for seven after being in a position to go past 350 to go.
In the middle order, the spotlight would be on Sanju Samson, the batter, as he again failed to take advantage of the opportunity at this level and returned with an 18-ball 12.
However, the Kerala stunner made up for his lack of runs with a stunning frontier save for death, which played a part in India taking a win in the final ball of the match, with Mohammed Siraj defending 15 runs.
On Sunday, people like Suryakumar Yadav, Samson, Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel want to deliver.
Dhawan provided a surprise in the absence of the injured Ravindra Jadeja, leaving part-time spinner Deepak Hooda ahead of specialist Yuzvendra Chahal in the first 20 overs.
Chahar returned without a wicket, but he was the most economical (4.40) bowler of the day for the Indians, finishing with 0/22 from his five overs and forcing the West Indies to catch up.
Siraj stood out when the spearhead of the tempo knocked Nicholas Pooraj off in the middle skips and returned at the death with his perfect yorkers.
With the series on the line, the West Indies are set to end their losing streak in ODIs, which has now stretched to seven games, including a 0-3 loss to Bangladesh in the previous rubber.
The series is not part of the ICC World Cup Super League and the West Indies have the opportunity to play without the pressure of the standings.
The last time India toured the West Indies for an ODI series, the Men in Blue won 2-0, with one game being washed out by rain.
The ODI series will be followed by a five-match T20I series, featuring an almost all-Indian team.
West Indies: Nicholas Pooran (Captain), Shai Hope (Vice Captain), Shamarh Brooks, Keacy Carty, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motion, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell and Jayden Seales .
India: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (World Cup), Sanju Samson (World Cup), Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd Siraj, Arshdeep Singh.
Match starts: 7pm IST.
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