India aim clean sweep, WI to play for pride
Antigua: An unbeatable 3-0 lead in hand, India would now aim for a cleansweep while trying out new players when they take on a demoralised West Indies in the inconsequential fourth game of their five-match one-day international series, on Monday.
Led by Suresh Raina, the second-string Indian team has given a good account of itself dominating the struggling Caribbean side, which has been weakened further by the absence of big-hitting Chris Gayle and reliable performers such as Dwayne Bravo.
In fact, the series has done a world of good to young Indian players such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Raina himself.
They have proved themselves as fighters when faced with tense situations, prompting coach Duncan Fletcher to state that the given the pool of talent, his wards are set to dominate world cricket for another decade or so.
"It is due to the amount of talent India have. Indian cricket is in a very, very healthy state presently," stated Fletcher after India clinched the series with a three-wicket win on Saturday.
Right-handed batsman Manoj Tiwary might get a look in after Raina hinted that reserve players are likely to be fielded for the remaining two matches.
But bowling would certainly be an area of concern for the Indians.
Without the ever-reliable Zaheer Khan, who won`t be available even for the Test series due to injury, the pacers led by Munaf Patel have struggled as was evident from the way West Indian number nine Andre Russell took them to the cleaners on Saturday.
In contrast, the spinners -- Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra -- have exploited the conditions to their advantage. The duo have more than made up the struggle by the pacers and either of the two might be rested to make way for promising off-spinner R Ashwin in the dead rubbers.
For the West Indies, it is about regaining the pride which lies in tatters after three demoralising losses.
Captain Darren Sammy has struggled to explain just why his players are finding it tough in home conditions against an opposition which is without its top stars.
He has been vocal in his criticism of the apparent lack of application by his players.
Sammy blamed the lack of "killer instinct" as one of the reasons for the team not being able to win.
He admitted that the batsmen haven`t been performing upto the mark and he expected a bit more from fast bowler Kemar Roach.
"We have not been getting runs at the top. We just lacked the finishing touch. About our bowling, Kemar is one of our strike bowlers and we needed a bit extra from him. But I can`t fault anyone, he has been doing a good job over the past months. If you put the ball in the right areas, you could reap rewards on this wicket."
What is heartening for the West Indies is the inspiring knock by Russell. A hurricane unbeaten 92 by a number nine batsman is just the kind of inspiration the host batsmen need to strike it big in the remaining two matches and make the final scoreline more respectable.