India v West Indies: KL Rahul's gain is Shikhar Dhawan's loss and other takeaways from ODI series

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Rahul in full flow. Image credit - BCCI/Twitter.

India survived a huge scare before eventually crossing the finish line against West Indies on Sunday with the final ODI clash of the year going right down to the wire in Cuttack.

A masterful innings in another run-chase from skipper Virat Kohli and some late fireworks from all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur helped India clinch the ODI series with a four-wicket win in the decider.

Like the preceding T20Is, the three ODIs were also a see-saw affair with the pendulum swinging from one side to another before finally resting on India.

Here, we look at three of the biggest takeaways from the hard-fought series.

Nicholas Pooran is a star

Pooran is becoming the next big thing. Image - Windies/Twitter.

Pooran is becoming the next big thing. Image – Windies/Twitter.

There were plenty of encouraging sings for Windies from their tour of India despite their losses in both series deciders. They made India sweat hard for their victories in both formats and displayed a flair that had gone missing from their game in the last couple of years.

While it was Shimron Hetmyer who raked in the big bucks in the IPL auction after his explosive displays, it was Nicholas Pooran who really stole the show with the aplomb with which he batted.

The 24-year-old looked to have all the time in the world to play his shots against the pacers and was equally belligerent when facing the spinners. His innings of 75 and 89 in the second and third ODIs respectively were absolute delights to watch and it was a shame that both of them eventually came in losing causes.

The left-hander is one of the cleanest hitters of the white-ball going around currently and can take apart any bowler at will through sheer timing. With the remarkable consistency he is now starting to achieve in his batting, Pooran definitely has a very bright future ahead of him. Expect more good things to come from his bat in the near future.

Rahul’s gain is Dhawan’s loss 

Rahul and Rohit were excellent in tandem. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

Rahul and Rohit were excellent in tandem. Image – BCCI/Twitter.

With a T20I World Cup to come in 10 months’ time, Shikhar Dhawan might just have lost his place to KL Rahul. Dhawan’s lack of explosiveness in the shortest format against Bangladesh recently had invited plenty of scrutiny and an untimely knee injury opened the door for KL Rahul to take his place as opener in the clashes against Windies.

It will now be very hard for Dhawan to reclaim his berth at the top with Rahul pouncing on the opportunity with the dexterity of an octopus. A natural opener, Rahul has looked completely at home at the top of the order with the fluency in his batting returning with a bang.

The right-hander was in magnificent touch in the T20 series where he registered two half-centuries including a 91 in the decider in Mumbai. He carried that form into the ODIs and made merry with a superb ton along with an innings of 77 in the deciding clash.

Dhawan’s inability to break the shackles with regards to strike-rate was evident against Bangladesh, and Rahul’s flee-flowing displays against West Indies will most certainly tilt the balance in his favour for the T20 World Cup.

Pant shows his value but wicketkeeping remains a worry

Some substance at last from Pant. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

Some substance at last from Pant. Image – BCCI/Twitter.

It is no secret that Rishabh Pant was under immense pressure ahead of the series with Indian fans making their frustrations known to him on both social media and at cricket stadiums across the country. The young wicketkeeper batsman has always carried plenty of promise with him after his electric start to life in the Test format. But, it is displays in the limited-overs formats which have been his undoing with the left-hander being ridiculed time and again for his shoddy shot-selection.

With the likes of Sanju Samson lurking in the wings as alternatives, Pant’s timely cameo of 71 in the Chennai ODI has ensured that the long rope given to him by India’s selectors will be extended even further. It was the southpaw’s maiden ODI half-century and it came at a stage when India were in a big spot of bother.

However, what still remains a worry with Pant are his wicketkeeping skills which have never been the most polished to begin with. The Delhi man dropped plenty of catches in the ODI series with as many as four chances put down in the final ODI itself. While he should get better with age, his glove work has not really progressed much since his international debut.

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