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In-form India mull bringing in Pant

Wisden India logo Wisden India 30-06-2017 Wisden India staff

Windies would be hoping to redeem themselves in Antigua after going down by a big 105-run margin against India in the second One-Day International in Trinidad, which handed the visiting side a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Rain washed out the opening game at Queen's Park Oval and threatened to affect the second contest at the same venue but the weather gods relented. With a clear forecast for the region on Friday (June 30), both sides will be looking forward to a full game.

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India's top order has looked in fine touch, with Shikhar Dhawan continuing his good from from the Champion's Trophy with back-to-back half centuries, and Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawan's opening partner in the absence of Rohit Sharma, coming good too after a prolonged lean patch. Rahane hit a patient 62 in the opening game before the heavens opened up, but went on to script his third century in the format in the second match that set the platform for India's victory.

Virat Kohli, who, in recent times, has made more headlines for his tiff with Anil Kumble, the former head coach, than his on-field performance, also scored a blistering 87 off 66 balls.His knock, including four boundaries and as many sixes, took India past 300 after Rahane's exit.

The only concern that the think tank might have in the batting department is the lacklustre form of Yuvraj Singh, who has struggled and been dismissed by Jason Holder cheaply in both digs.

With the top order firing, and the likes of Hardik Pandya, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav in the mix, Yuvraj's shortcomings haven't really affected India's overall performance, but if they wish to experiment, there's Rishabh Pant in the squad who can be handed a debut.

Kohli did hint at the possibility at a recent press conference, before the Indian team flew from Trinidad to Antigua. “We’ll sit down and decide as a team about changes that can be made," he said. "We’ll go to Antigua and regroup, and that (playing Pant) is a possibility as well, to give a few guys an opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Carter and Kesrick Williams have been replaced by Kyle Hope and Sunil Ambris, both uncapped players, in the Windies squad for the last three ODIs.

Windies have been overly reliant on Shai Hope, Kyle's elder brother, to rack up the runs for the side, and though the young Barbadian has delivered, he will need more support if the hosts are to make an impact against the strong Indian side.

Windies lost both Kieran Powell and Jason Mohammed for ducks in Trinidad, but Hope hit back with a resilient 81 off 88 balls. But with the next highest score coming from Roston Chase (33 n.o.), the No. 7 batsman, India wrapped up the game easily.

Alzarri Joseph has been the most successful bowler for Windies, with Holder also chipping in, but it's their batting that Windies need to sort out to keep the series alive. The changes made to the side could help them achieve that, but it won't be easy against the disciplined bowling of India.

Kuldeep Yadav, who made his debut in the second ODI, troubled the hosts with figures of 3 for 50, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept the opponents under pressure with his economical spell.

Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya were the other pacers used in that contest, but it would be interesting to see if Mohammed Shami, who has been out of action in the 50-over format with injuries since the 2015 World Cup, gets a chance in Antigua.

The fourth ODI will also be played at the same venue, before the teams move to Jamaica for the final game and a one-off Twenty20 International on July 9.

Squads:

Windies: Jason Holder (capt), Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell.

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Umesh Yadav.

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