New Delhi: Having finally notched up their first victory over India on a rather eventful tour, West Indies will be looking for a repeat performance in an effort to take the one-day international series into a decider, when the two teams clash in Indore on Thursday.
The win in the third ODI was a landmark moment for Darren Sammy's men as they finally tasted success after having come close on a handful of occasions, without quite being able to ram in the final nail in the coffin. The more pertinent question, however, is whether the elusive win in Ahmedabad has given the West Indies the belief of winning three in a row to snatch the series from India's grasp, or whether they will be too overwhelmed by their recent win to even 'turn up' for the remaining two encounters.
One has to keep in mind that winning a game to keep the series alive has been a rarity of sorts for this team in 2011. The only time they managed it was during the ODIs in Bangladesh when West Indies won the three-match affair in the second fixture itself. But keeping in the mind the quality of the opposition, it could hardly be considered as a cause for celebration.
Playing hosts to Pakistan and India earlier in the year, West Indies helped themselves to a couple of wins in each series but those were dead rubbers, which raises further doubts about their ability and mentality to compete on level terms with the top sides in the world.
Coming back to the current ODI series, West Indies will be buoyed by the blistering knock of skipper Sammy, who bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 41 off 17 deliveries, smashing five fours and a couple of maximums on the way. It was a welcome change for the 'man in charge' who had a total of two runs in as many innings prior to that, and is sure to do a world of good for someone who's forte has not exactly been to lead by example. Apart from that, Andre Russell's 40 off 18 balls and an unbroken stand of 79 with Sammy, followed by Ravi Rampaul's match winning 4 for 57 has given the visitors enough reason to entertain thoughts of another upset in Indore.
As far as the hosts are concerned, the law of averages is due to catch up with Rohit Sharma who has bailed the team out of a 'sticky wicket' on a regular basis with scores of 72, 90* and 95. Along with Virat Kohli, who had a rare failure in the last game, Rohit has unquestionably been the reason for the 2-1 advantage that India enjoy in the ongoing series.
While the form of stand-in captain, Virender Sehwag, and Delhi team-mate Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order has been worrying, what might just set the cat amongst the pigeons is the bowling at the death, which swung the momentum well and truly West Indies’ way in the last game. And even though spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continue to impress, the bowling of Umesh Yadav and Abhimanyu Mithun left a lot to be desired in Ahmedabad.
What will be an interesting prospect on Thursday as well as in the final match of the series, is the role that left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan, making a comeback after two years, and Varun Aaron play, should both be selected in the playing XI. A lot has been made of Mithun getting the nod ahead of Irfan for the upcoming Tests in Australia, taking into account his stupendous show in the Ranji Trophy matches this year. Could there be a question mark over the frame of mind of the Baroda seamer?
There could be no doubt, though, about the fact the Sehwag-led side will be putting the disappointment of the third ODI behind them and would want to believe that lightning cannot strike twice when they set foot on the Holkar Stadium in less than 24 hours.