The difference between teams ranked near the top and lower down the order is in the manner they capitalise on good positions. The West Indies have been in decent situations at various points of this one-day series, but have let them slip away due to immaturity or succumbing to pressure. The Indian team know that if they hold on long enough, the hosts will crumble as the gulf in class between the two sides will come to the fore.
Ironically, the only success the West Indies enjoyed in the series so far came when nobody gave them a chance after putting up a below-par total on an admittedly sluggish pitch.
The first innings of the fifth one-dayer went almost according to the same script as the preceding one, with the home team huffing and puffing to what seemed to be an inadequate total (205 for nine). The only difference being it was a much better batting surface.
The Hope brothers — Shai and Kyle — put on a promising partnership, but once they were separated, the innings stuttered and almost came to a halt. With there being a bit of help, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja (no Ravichandran Ashwin again) exposed the ineptness of the Caribbean batsmen against spin once again. Skipper Jason Holder tried to take the game to the chinaman, with a couple of reverse sweeps, but once he got out to an ambitious stroke off Mohammed Shami (who was rewarded for his excellent rhythm with figures of 4/48), there was not much else. Youngster Rovman Powell’s brief cameo ensured that the West Indies had the satisfaction of crossing the 200-run mark.
Some of the Windies batsmen are good stroke-players, but on the evidence on show in this series, they hardly have any clue about building a long innings in the 50-over format. The Hope brothers, more than anyone, seem to know what is required, but they too fell to injudicious shots at inopportune moments. Kyle played some pleasing strokes on both sides of the wicket as he looked to be enjoying pace on the ball.
West Indies were 49 for one after 10 overs — their best start in the series — with the brothers in tandem when Umesh Yadav returned after a lacklustre first spell to change the course of proceedings with two wickets in as many balls. Kyle had hit two bounaries in the over — one a slap past mid-off and another imperious pull in front of square. But going for a repeat, he only found Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket.
Next ball, Roston Chase, who is carving out quite a career in Test cricket, played across a straight one which found his front pad.
From there on, it was all an uphill struggle for the Windies as the spinners got hold of the game. The run rate which was close to six at one stage, fell below four after the 28th over.
At one stage, Shai Hope and Holder threatened to take the hosts to a more substantial total. The captain had hit four fours and a slap over midwicket off Hardik Pandya when he advanced towards Shami, but couldn’t get the desired contact and Dhawan at long-on took a decent catch.
One set batsman getting out was bad enough, but losing the other immediately afterwards was calamitous. Shai Hope top-edged a pull and Ajinkya Rahane, at deep square, ran quite a long way, kept his eyes on the ball and dived full length to take a terrific catch.
The hosts lost 4/19 at the crucial stage of the innings, Shami accounting for all of them.
But Powell took matters into his own hands at the fag end of the innings. He muscled one over long-on off Shami before dishing out the same treatment to Umesh in the final over. The speedster got him with a short ball at the body before the Jamaican could inflict any more damage.