India continued their domination over the West Indies in One-Day International (ODI) cricket with a thumping win in the series decider on Tuesday. After a facile five-wicket win over the hosts in the opener, India paid the penalty for a batting collapse in the second game as the hosts pulled off a comfortable victory. However, the Indian batting came good in the final game in Tarouba, Trinidad, despite skipper Rohit Sharma and batting mainstay Virat Kohli sitting out for a second successive match.
The 200-run win under acting-captain Hardik Pandya ensured the Indians kept their proud record of not having lost an ODI series to the Caribbean side for the last 17 years. The Men in Blue were always the favourites against the Windies who have failed to even qualify for the ODI World Cup to be played India in October-November. Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid wanted to try out the World Cup hopefuls in this short series.
Young wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan made the biggest impact. The Jharkhand player grabbed the opportunity with both hands at the top of the order. Kishan smashed three successive fifties and ended up as the Player of the Series. Being a left-hander is an additional advantage for Kishan.
The 25-year-old has emerged as the No. 1 stumper-batter in the absence of Rishabh Pant who is on the road to recovery after being involved in a car accident last December. Kishan is the floater in the Indian line-up. He could open the innings with Rohit in the World Cup. In that case, Shubman Gill will move to No. 3 and Kohli will drop down to No. 4. If the Indian think tank decides to persist with Rohit and Gill as openers, Kishan is likely to drop down the order to No. 4 or 5.
Rising star Gill made amends for a rather quite series with a fine 85 in the crucial third ODI. Sanju Samson staked his claim with a blistering 51 in the decider, while Suryakumar Yadav had an ordinary series. The injured duo of K L Rahul and Shreyas Iyer are the other batters fighting for a place in the World Cup squad. Both are racing against time to be fit for the Asia Cup, which begins on August 30. The Asia Cup and three-match series at home against Australia are the ODI assignments left for India ahead of the mega event.
On the bowling front, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav is the No.1 tweaker along with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Yuzvendra Chahal continues to be on the sidelines as he did not get a single game. The leggie's inability with the bat seems to have hurt his chances of getting into the playing eleven. But the Haryana bowler should be there in the final 15 considering his variations and temperament. Gujarat all-rounder Axar Patel enjoys the trust of the team management and is a certainty in the squad.
Seam bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur did his reputation no harm by picking up eight wickets in the series. Pacer Mukesh Kumar too had a memorable debut series.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has regained fitness and has been named skipper for the three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Ireland. Bumrah will form a potent pace trio along with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj who were both rested for the series.
Pandya once again proved his value with a brilliant 52-ball unbeaten 70 in the final game. The T20I captain is slowly increasing his workload with the ball in the 50-over version and it augurs well for Team India.