After maintaining a 100 percent win record in the ongoing World Cup, the Indian cricket team will aim for their fifth win on the trot when they take on an ousted-yet-dangerous West Indies in Manchester on Thursday. A win against Windies will ensure the Men in Blue a smooth passage into the semi-finals, but Jason Holder’s boy’s unpredictability might play party poopers as they hit the pitch with nothing to lose in their remaining fixtures.
Ahead of the clash against Windies, MS Dhoni’s batting position will be the team management’s primary concern. The former India skipper managed just 28 runs in 52 deliveries against Afghanistan and was exposed to heavy criticism. “There was no positive intent,” batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar said claiming Dhoni’s approach reflected lack of positive intent.
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With four league matches still to be played, the team management might opt to give Kedhar Jadhav a chance to bat above Dhoni, and hope that with more deliveries to face the batsman has the freedom to be more innovative in his shot selection.
Hardik Pandya is being used as a floater but the Afghanistan match showed that if he doesn’t get support from the other end, there is too much pressure on him to hit every delivery for a six.
Dhoni’s struggled against the spinners in the previous fixture and with the Windies side loaded with fast bowlers, it will be comparatively easier for the wicketkeeper-batsman to rotate the strike.
West Indies, on the other hand, will look to finish on a high after being knocked out despite a great start against Pakistan. The team, especially the fast bowling department, has shown tremendous potential including the young bumper-happy fast bowling duo of Sheldon Cotterell and Oshane Thomas.
With Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma being superb horizontal bat players, it promises to be a mouth-watering contest if they employ the short-ball tactic. For the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle, a smashing match-winning innings is due and Kohli will be praying that it doesn’t come against his team.
Jasprit Bumrah’s opening spell against Gayle may set the tone while the talented duo of Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer will be asked a few questions by Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Looking at the pitch, the surface at Old Trafford has been beneficial for the bowlers so far in the tournament. Both spinners and fast bowlers have exploited the conditions but we also saw India posting a stiff 336/5 on the board against Pakistan at the same venue. With the weather report suggesting the day to be bright and sunny on Thursday, toss can play an important factor. The team winning the toss should opt to bat. The temperature is expected to hover around 20-23 degrees Celsius according to AccuWeather.
– with inputs from PTI