West Indies v India: Fifth ODI Preview

Cricket_Match

The West Indies have it all to play for as they prepare to go up against India in the fifth and final ODI.

A series seemingly bound for Indian triumph has been thrown wide open on the back of the Windies' victory in the fourth ODI and, although overall victory isn't possible for either team, both suddenly have so much to play for.

What could have been a deadrubber has instead transpired as a decider, with Thursday's finale in Kingston ready to set an intriguing tone ahead of the one-off Twenty20 International at the same venue 72 hours later.

West Indies v India | Thursday, 6 July 2017 | Fifth ODI | Sabina Park, Kingston | 16:00

To Win Match
West Indies 33/10 | Tie 35/1 | India 1/4

West Indies
The hosts received a major confidence boost in Antigua, where they resurrected an otherwise one-sided series with victory over an admittedly stunned opposition unit. The collective steel - rather than individual bravado - shown by one and all needs to spill over into Thursday's fixture, if the Windies are to familiar failings.

Coach Stuart Law lauded their "outstanding" fielding effort, while captain Jason Holder emerged appreciative on the back of a "proud" performance by the bowlers. The inadequacies of the batsmen, though, remain a glaring area of concern. If not outright, overall improvement across the top six, at least one needs to dig deep enough to bat through the bulk of the innings.

The home side boast an impressive record at Sabina Park. The last time they met their current rivals here in the intermediate format of the game, the West Indians won comfortably enough after bowling first. The same must be said about the two occasions before that, at the same ground, against the same opposition. All signs are pointing to Holder batting second, then, if triumphant at the toss.

India, in fact, have not won an ODI at the Kingston venue since 2009, when the left-handed Yuvraj Singh was at his very best. Almost a decade later, the Windies' attack has obviously changed significantly, but the goal remains the same: ensure the Indian middle order doesn't run away with proceedings on a potentially flat pitch.

India
While victory in the penultimate ODI would have afforded the tourists the potential to experiment with their XI, which they have been tempering and balancing throughout the four fixtures so far, they now have to field their best XI in a crucial decider. Having all but ousted coach Anil Kumble, captain Virat Kohli and company simply cannot repay the BCCI with drawn series against a team substantially inferior in the ICC's rankings.

Kohli bemoaned shoddy shot selection, while batting coach Sanjay Bangar pinned a lack of success on the nature of the surface in North Sound. Neither, nor others, should play the blame game with elements beyond their control going into the series decider. A balance between he cavalier stroke play of the third ODI and poor choices of the third needs to be struck.

Like the Windies, India will need at least one batsman to bat deep into the 50-over allotment. Banking on big contributions from opener Shikhar Dhawan or Ajinkya Rahane - and the superb finishing skills of Dhoni - is not fair on the earmarked individuals. The rest must step up - and it's high time young gun Rishabh Pant be afforded the chance to prove himself at a vital juncture.

While this series won't bring an outright winner, due to the first ODI washout, India won't want a draw to punctuate the seven ODI bilateral and tri-series wins they have gathered over the Windies since 2006. The islanders, however, will be acutely aware of the opportunity to do the exact opposite for the first time in more than a decade.

Verdict: West Indies 33/10
Pakistan showed in the recent Champions Trophy final that an Indian team brimming with confidence can be deflated, relatively easily, if their so-called big-ticket players don't perform on cue.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for @Hollywoodbets.net

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