Cricket World Cup 2019: India look to inch closer to semi-finals against wounded Windies

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India remain unbeaten so far in the 2019 World Cup.

India will aim to take another giant step towards 2019 ICC World Cup semi-final qualification when they take on West Indies at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The Men in Blue remain unbeaten in England with four wins from five clashes while one encounter with New Zealand ended in a no-result.

Windies, on the other hand, are all but out of the running for the semi-finals after picking up just the one win in their six games.

FOCUS ON INDIA’S MIDDLE-ORDER

India’s start to their World Cup campaign had been an impressive one but they come into the Old Trafford clash after being given a big scare by Afghanistan.

India’s batting struggled massively against Afghanistan’s slower bowlers with MS Dhoni, in particular, having a hard time in the middle. The veteran wicketkeeper scratched his way to a 52-ball 28 and looked unconvincing throughout his stay at the crease.

Even the normally restrained Sachin Tendulkar criticised Dhoni for a lack of intent in the middle as India ultimately posted a below-par total of 224-8.

Dhoni will be in the spotlight once again and it will be interesting to see whether skipper Virat Kohli shuffles the batting order. India are set to persist with all-rounder Vijay Shankar in the middle-order despite the availability of Rishabh Pant while Hardik Pandya will likely be used as a floater once again.

Kedar Jadhav should retain his place as well after a fighting fifty against the Afghans while he also bowls part-time off-spin.

WOUNDED WINDIES

A sensational maiden ODI ton from Carlos Brathwaite was not enough for the Windies as the Caribbean side falling to an agonising five-run loss to New Zealand in their most recent encounter.

It was the fourth loss in six games for Jason Holder and his men who had started their campaign with a comprehensive thrashing of Pakistan. Despite coming into the tournament with a power-packed side containing the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, the Windies have failed to put together a complete team display which in turn has cost them in crux situations.

Star all-rounder Russell has now been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament to rub salt into Windies’ wounds with batsman Sunil Ambris called up as a replacement.

Although they still hold an outside chance of qualifying, the writing is well and truly on the wall for West Indies. They will now be playing mostly for pride in their three remaining games.

TEAM NEWS

India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned to bowling in the nets after picking up a hamstring niggle in India’s win over arch-rivals Pakistan. However, India are set to proceed with caution when it comes to Bhuvneshwar and he is likely to miss out again while hat-trick hero Mohammed Shami should retain his spot in the playing XI.

LIKELY XIs

India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Shai Hope (wk), Sunil Ambris, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (c), Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.

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