In a series that has mirrored the preceding T20I clashes, all things lie in perfect balance as India and West Indies prepare to battle it out in the deciding third and final ODI in Cuttack.
Sunday’s clash at the Barabati Cricket Stadium promises to be another humdinger of an ODI, although the fact that India are unbeaten in their last seven appearances at the venue gives them the slight edge.
747 runs were amassed by India and England between them in the last ODI held at the ground, and all signs point towards another high-scoring affair.
Kohli looks to avoid rare triple failure
After the highs of his majestic displays in the T20I series, the runs have suddenly dried up for Virat Kohli in the 50-over matches. The India skipper was at his sublime best in the preceding series with unbeaten salvos of 94 and 70 in the first and third T20I respectively.
However, the ODI clashes so far have been a forgettable one for Kohli, even though the remaining cast of India’s top-three have made merry. While KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma have fired on all cylinders, Kohli has collected just four runs in the two clashes, including a dismissal for a golden duck in the last ODI in Visakhapatnam.
Rarely does Kohli endure an extended spell of poor form, particularly in the ODI format which remains his bread and butter. Though Windies will be happy to have kept him quiet so far in the series, they will know a big innings is always lurking around the corner when it comes to Kohli. The Indian captain was in clutch form in the T20 series decider, and he will hope to rise to the occasion in Cuttack as well where he has managed to aggregate just 34 runs in his four previous appearances.
Windies aim to avert 10th straight loss to India
Windies were very much the pioneers of the ODI game with the Caribbean side going on to lift the first two editions of the World Cup before falling to defeat in the final of the third. However, those days of glory are long behind them with the Men in Maroon becoming the whipping boys of the 50-over format in the last few years.
They had not won a single bilateral ODI series in over five years before that miserable drought was finally broken against Afghanistan last month. Their track record against India is even more pitiful with the Caribbean side ending up with defeats in all nine of the most recent bilateral ODI series between the two sides.
As such, the Cuttack encounter presents the visitors with a chance to record a rare back-to-back ODI series win while also ending their horrendous run against India. Kieron Pollard’s men have shown plenty of encouraging signs on their India tour so far, but have missed that finishing touch and decisive blow.
What is certain is that they will not be daunted by the pressure of the decider after giving the hosts plenty of scares in the last five white-ball clashes.
Saini in line for ODI debut after Chahar injury
There will be an enforced change for India on Sunday after seamer Deepak Chahar was ruled out of the decider with a back injury. The hosts have called in Navdeep Saini as a replacement and the 27-year-old pacer is in line to make his ODI debut for the country.
So far, the Delhi man has played five T20Is for India where he has picked up a total of six wickets. He will have fond memories of India’s tour of the Caribbean earlier this year where he picked up the man-of-the-match award in the first T20 clash.
It has been a gruelling series so far for bowlers from both sides and Saini has his task cut out in leaking the flow of runs in what is expected to be another batting paradise in Cuttack.
Chahar was able to maintain a decent economy-rate of 5.41 in the two previous ODIs and Saini would do well to replicate those displays should he make his debut.
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