Author : Nayyar Abdul Rasheed
India is backing an out of form Yuvraj Singh, but the pressure on him is increasing with repeated failures
Dropped catches, dew and some timely knocks by West Indies have ensured that the 3rd ODI in Kanpur tomorrow is not a dead rubber. With the series tied 1-1, West Indies have one chance of making something out of this hopeless tour so far.
In Vizag they showed that given certain conditions, they can outplay this Indian side. In Kanpur, they would want to prove they came to India with an intent to win. The biggest positive they received from Sunday’s win was Darren Sammy’s innings which showed that as a batsman, he’s not all about mindless hitting.
Sammy was helped by the inexperience in Indian pace attack when the yorkers became non-existent and Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohit Sharma, India’s most talked about pacers in recent times, dished out full tosses which Sammy made full use of, hitting them over the leg side.
MS Dhoni said after the game that dew made the conditions ‘unfair’ for them. Attempted yorkers ending up as waist high full tosses might be attributed to the dew on the ground, but justifying dropped catches would be pushing it.
India’s problems in Vizag weren’t just limited to bowling and fielding, and had the two known saviours of Indian cricket, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni not been their usual self – one almost scoring a hundred, the other providing a late burst – India wouldn’t have managed 280-odd on the board.
Yuvraj Singh’s troubles against spin, especially early during his innings, were well exploited by West Indies as Sunil Narine and Veerasammy Permaul troubled him, frustrating him enough to play a loose shot against Sammy. Suresh Raina too continued to disappoint, and completing the trio of failed left-handers when it comes to batting, Ravindra Jadeja too is getting on the radar, his bat having been quiet for some time now.
Where Ravi Rampaul dished out his mandatory 3/4-wicket haul against India, it was Sunil Narine, who bowled a splendid 2nd spell, without which India could have targeted 300. India stuttered against Narine in Kochi too, and even while chasing, which is this team’s preferred choice, Narine is one bowler who can take on Dhoni and co.
Players to watch out for
“Once he gets a few runs, you’ll see a different Yuvraj Singh.” – MS Dhoni.
It’s clear that this team is ready to back Yuvraj despite his scores in last 6 innings reading – 28, 16*, 12, 0, 0, 7. Since his 77 not out against Australia in the T20 at Rajkot, runs have eluded Yuvraj Singh. In the first 4 ODIs against Australia, he bowled 6, 4, 3 and 1 over respectively. Since then, he hasn’t been used as a bowler by Dhoni.
Whether or not to let him focus on his batting, Yuvraj Singh’s contribution hasn’t been much recently. He’s been included in the ODI squad for South Africa, and may be only a few runs away from emerging the match-winner that he is, but Yuvraj Singh is under pressure to make the fairytale comeback which his fans have been expecting since some time now.
Sunil Narine in his 2nd spell has not given away an inch, if not taken heaps of wickets
Along with Ravi Rampaul, Narine poses the biggest threat to the star studded Indian batting line-up. Rampaul has been quick in the matches so far, hurrying onto batsmen who’ve been taken almost by surprise by the pace.
Narine has looked to be playable in the earlier part of the innings, but has come back to wreak havoc in his 2nd spell. In his first 7 overs at Kochi, he gave away 45, without taking a wicket. In his 2nd spell, bowling to Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni, he leaked just 12 runs in his last 3, and also picked up Yuvraj’s wicket.
At Vizag, Narine made an even more dramatic comeback. In his first 5 overs, he gave away 31, with Kohli missing few, but hitting most of them. In his last 5, he broke all momentum which India planned to gain in the powerplay. Dhoni and Jadeja failed to pick his variations and he gave away just 8 runs. India’s top order may feel at ease against Narine, but when it comes to the middle and lower order, he’s still capable of giving them nightmares.
After a 4-year gap, Kanpur’s Green Park will finally host an international match. In a move away from the routine, it’s a day start for the 3rd ODI, despite the floodlights being present at the stadium.
Despite late night dew not a worry for both the teams, they may have to deal with overnight dew in northern part of India at this time of the year. A high-scoring game looks a remote possibility, as the highest score on this ground so far has been 260. An early morning start also bodes well for the pacers in the first innings.
In 12 matches played at the ground so far, the team chasing has won 7 times, while the a total has been defended on 5 occasions. India have lost only 3 matches here out of the 11 they’ve played so far.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami
West Indies: Kieran Powell, Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Hold9er, Sunil Narine, Veerasammy Permaul
Start time: 9:00 am IST (3:30 pm GMT)