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The men in blue will be eyeing a series clean sweep when they take on West Indies in the third and final one-day international (ODI) at Port of Spain later today (Wednesday). India enjoys an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series but the West Indies have run them close in the two matches.
India won the series opener by just three runs. Batting first India posted a total of 308/7. West Indies put up a brave fight in the chase and reached 305/6. The second ODI proved to be another thriller as India clinched the game by two wickets. West Indies batted first and set India a daunting target of 312. India left the chase too late and it was only a six by Axar Patel on the fourth delivery of the 50th over that helped India cross the line.
With the banality of the 50-over format increasingly being questioned in the recent past, the two matches played at Queen's Park Oval have proved that ODI matches can still be highly entertaining.
With the fate of the series decided, there is a chance that stand-in Indian skipper Shikhar Dhawan will give the players who have warmed the benches in the first two matches a go.
The trio of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan and Arshdeep Singh are the only members of the ODI squad yet to get a game in the series.
Gaikwad and Kishan bat inside the top three so their chances to breakthrough in India's playing XI for the final game looks unlikely. Dhawan was just three runs short of a ton in the first ODI as his fellow opener Shubhman Gill struck a fiery fifty. Dhawan and Gill's efforts were backed by Shreyas Iyer's steady half-century. Iyer who has batted at number three in the series backed his fifty in the first match with another half-century in the second game. The second match also saw Sanju Samson, India's preferred wicket-keeper batsman for the series, blaze his way to a half-century.
There is a likelihood that Arshdeep could make his ODI debut in the series finale. India preferred Prasidh Krishna as the second fast bowler in the first match but the tall bowler conceded 62 runs in his quota of 10 overs. Krishna's poor show prompted Dhawan to include Avesh Khan and bench him for the second match. Avesh's returns were even poorer as he was punished for 54 runs in just six overs. With Krishna and Avesh proving to be ineffective, Dhawan could try the left-arm fast bowling of Arshdeep.
Meanwhile, eyes will be on all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's inclusion in the playing eleven. Jadeja picked a niggle in the knee on the eve of the first match and was initially ruled out of the first two matches. But with Axar smashing a blistering fifty in India's chase and also picking up a wicket in that match, Jadeja could stay on the bench.
What West Indies will aim for
For the hosts, the final match of the series is an opportunity to come out all guns blazing to deny India a chance of a clean sweep in the series.
West Indies could draw positives from the fact that they are learning their lessons quickly. Before the start of the series, head coach Phil Simmons had said that the team should learn to bat out the full quota of 50 overs, after failing to bat out 50 overs in the preceding eight games. The Nicholas Pooran-led side has made India bowl 100 overs in the first two games.
West Indies are unlikely to shuffle their playing XI for the final game. But Jason Holder who got infected with COVID-19 just ahead at the start of the series is now available for selection. His inclusion could lend the team the skills and experience required to translate close shaves into comfortable wins.
West Indies: L-L-L-L-L
Pitch and conditions
The first two games have proved to be high-scoring ones. Expect the trend to continue and the pitch for the third match could be another batting paradise.
There are chances of occasional rains throughout the course of the game.
West Indies possible XI: Shai Hope (WK), Kyle Mayers, Shamarh Brooks, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran (C), Rovman Powell, Akeal Hosein, Romario Shepherd, Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales, Hayden Walsh
India possible XI: Shikhar Dhawan (C), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson (WK), Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Avesh Khan/Arshdeep Singh
(Edited by : Abhishek Jha)
First Published: Jul 27, 2022 12:28 PM IST
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