India take on the West Indies at Old Trafford today, knowing a victory would put them within touching distance of the semi-finals. Virat Kohli’s team has approached each game in a professional manner and don’t expect that to change.
But all eyes will be on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s batting approach and position that he will come out to bat in India’s sixth league phase encounter of the World Cup.
Dhoni’s painfully slow approach against Afghanistan yielded 28 off 52 balls and he came in for some harsh criticism. Even the normally restrained Sachin Tendulkar questioned the approach.
“There was no positive intent,” said Tendulkar’s on a TV channel.
The Indian team management will be hoping that the Dhoni knock was a one-off but they could also consider the option of giving Kedar Jadhav an opportunity up the order.
India vs West Indies at the World Cup
|1979||WI won by 9 wickets||Birmingham|
|1983||IND won by 34 runs||Manchester|
|1983||WI won by 66 runs||The Oval|
|1983||IND won by 43 runs||Lord's|
|1992||WI won by 5 wickets||Wellington|
|1996||IND won by 5 wickets||Gwalior|
|2011||IND won by 80 runs||Chennai|
|2015||IND won by 4 wickets||Perth|
India vs West Indies H2H
|Matches played||India won||West Indies won|
|ICC events (W'Cup, Champions Trophy)||15||8||8|
Hardik Pandya has looked in good touch but India’s middle-order fragility is there for all to see. Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri till now have not been too keen to use Rishabh Pant’s firepower but will Vijay Shankar continue to find a place in the playing XI ahead of Dinesh Karthik and Pant?
The West Indies team is loaded with fast bowlers so it could be a bit easier for Dhoni to rotate the strike as he hasn’t been comfortable against the slow bowlers.
There have been arguments and counter-arguments about Dhoni’s batting approach in the IPL compared to his style when playing 50-over cricket for India.
A strategy needs to be worked around Dhoni’s skill sets here too to place him at a position on which he can bat freely.
With his inputs and electric glovework behind the stumps an absolute necessity, this will require some tactical brainstorming by the captain and the coach.
The West Indies, on the other hand, will look to finish on a high after being knocked out despite a great start against Pakistan. Andre Russell being ruled out due to a hamstring injury has been another big blow.
However, the team, especially the fast bowling department, has shown tremendous potential including the young bumper-happy fast bowling duo of Sheldon Cotterell and Oshane Thomas.
With Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma being superb horizontal bat players, it promises to be a mouth-watering contest if they employ the short-ball tactic.
For the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle, a smashing match-winning innings is due and Kohli will be praying that it doesn’t come against his team.
Jasprit Bumrah’s opening spell against Gayle may set the tone while the talented duo of Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer will be asked a few questions by Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant.
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Kemar Roach, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Ambris, Evin Lewis, Shannon Gabriel, Darren Bravo, Fabian Allen.