LONDON: After a narrow escape against spirited Afghanistan, Indian team travel to Manchester with their sights set on World Cup semi-final. The Indians would look to get their game-plan back on track on Thursday against the West Indies, and will expect no less than two points on their return to Old Trafford, where they nailed the old foe Pakistan, 10 days back.
A win in this match will take India a step closer to a ICC World Cup 2019 playoff berth. India currently have four wins under their belt and need two more out of the four remaining games to secure a berth in the semifinals.
The West Indies, on the other hand, has won only one out of six matches they played so far.
BOWLERS TO THE RESCUE
India were almost on the receiving end of a great World Cup shock against Afghanistan, but their outstanding death-bowling eventually saw them squeeze through.
Virat Kohli and his men will be hoping for a more emphatic victory against the West Indies to win a ticket to the semi-finals.
The Indian bowlers once again proved their match-winning capabilities as they successfully defended a below-par score against Afghanistan on Saturday in a match that went to wire.
Mohammed Shami, who picked up a hat-trick in Southampton, is likely to retain his place in the playing XI as India are unlikely to risk playing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury.
The Indian middle-order will look to add more stability to the batting and bat deep into the innings to give bowlers enough runs in the bank.
It will be interesting to see if Rishabh Pant gets a game after the middle order failed to accelerate during the match against Afghanistan.
Rishabh Pant replaced Shikhar Dhawan after the opener was ruled out because of a fractured thumb during the match against Australia.
The wicketkeeper-batsman has the ability to change any game in a few overs through his explosive hitting. The 21-year-old is a left-handed batsman and would also lend variety to the Indian batting order, all of whom are right-handed.
The West Indies come into this match after a heartbreaking five-run loss to New Zealand—a game that seemed all but over before Carlos Brathwaite almost produced an unimaginable result.
Such has been the story of the Jason Holder-led side in this tournament so far, as the little flashes of brilliance at different points haven’t been enough to produce the desired results.
Andre Russell, who appeared to be in discomfort each time he stepped onto the field, has been ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury.
With mathematical permutations still giving them an outside chance for a semi-final berth, West Indies will aim to pull off a complete performance against an in-form Indian side.
TIME TO STEP UP
Indian skipper Virat Kohli has done okay with bat, but is yet to find his usual mojo. His task, however, won’t be easy against the West Indies. Jason Holder’s men boast one of the strongest pace attacks in the tournament.
The likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach and the captain Holder himself have given a hard time to some of the best batting line-ups in the business.
Kohli would also be wary of the fact that the Indian batting line-up failed to live up to the expectations in their last game against Afghanistan. The Indian innings derailed after Kohli was out playing a loose shot for 67.
The Indian captain therefore, would not like a repeat of the same and will look to get a big hundred against West Indies to take India one-step closer to the semi-final spot.
India captain Virat Kohli is just 37 runs away from adding another world record to his illustrious cap. Kohli, who already became the fastest to 11,000 ODI runs in this World Cup, will bid to become the fastest to score 20,000 international runs.
If the Indian skipper Kohli, who has 19,963 international runs, gets the remaining 37 runs against the West Indies on Thursday then he will be the 12th batsman to this landmark and the third Indian after master blaster Sachin Tendulkar (34,357 runs) and Rahul Dravid (24,208 runs).
PROBABLE PLAYING XI
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cotrell, Oshane Thomas.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.
PITCH AND CONDITIONS
The pitch at Old Trafford in Manchester will be a assisting the batsmen. Although it rained on Tuesday, the pitch was covered with hardly any grass on it. It will be a dry and mostly sunny day with warmth and humidity. Dryness might bring the spinners into play as the day progresses. Teams batting first have won each of the three matches played at Old Trafford in this tournament so far.