The West Indies look to keep alive their super slim hopes of reaching the World Cup semi-finals as they face an unbeaten India in a must-win game at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The West Indies sit a lowly eighth in the table after just one win – their tournament opener against Pakistan – and four defeats from their first six games. But, wins in their final three, starting against India, will see them up to nine points and above England in fourth spot, provided the hosts do not win another game and other results go their way.
W Indies vs India
June 27, 2019, 10:00am
As for India, one more win will virtually guarantee their progress through to the knockout stage, as it would move them level with New Zealand in second place on 11 points from six games. It would leave them needing at least one more one – or at least a tie – from their final three games to progress.
India hardly built up a sweat in comfortably disposing of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan – either side of a rained off encounter with New Zealand – but they were certainly made to work hard for their fourth victory, with winless Afghanistan running them close to the tune of an 11-run defeat.
Afghanistan first restricted India to 224-8 and were in with a chance of chasing it down until Mohammed Shami stepped up under pressure and took a final-over hat-trick to bowl out the Afghans for 213.
For the West Indies, their tournament has been in a downward spiral ever since bowling out Pakistan for 105 in stunning style on the second morning of the tournament. Following on from that emphatic seven-wicket win at Trent Bridge, they have been beaten by Australia, England, Bangladesh and New Zealand.
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The latest of those defeats was a World Cup epic, with the West Indies seemingly down and out at 164-7 in pursuit of 292, but Carlos Brathwaite then smashed nine fours and five sixes – three maximums in a row coming in the 48th over to reduce the runs required down to a manageable eight from the final 12 deliveries, though with only one wicket in hand.
Brathwaite then reached his maiden ODI hundred in the penultimate over but, looking for another six to win the game, he perished at long-on to confirm the most dramatic of wins for New Zealand – a crestfallen Bratwhwaite slumping to the turf.
Will the West Indies build on that performance and get over the line this time round to just about stay alive in the World Cup?
West Indies talisman Andre Russell has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup due to a knee injury that has troubled him throughout. He has been replaced in the squad by opening batsman Sunil Ambris, picked instead of another all-rounder due to the thigh injury Evin Lewis sustained against New Zealand. Ambris could immediately come in at the top of the order against India, or alternatively Shai Hope will open, allowing Darren Bravo back in at No 3.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back in the nets for India. Encouraging news as he looks to recover from his hamstring injury, but it may be a little too soon to risk him – especially given the fine performance of Shami in his place. India are likely to be unchanged, though there continue to be question marks around Vijay Shankar’s role in the side at No 4. Rishabh Pant – the squad replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan – continues to be talked up as a potential replacement, a more natural stroke-maker up the order.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brathwaite. How can it not be after his sensational maiden ODI hundred that took the West Indies oh so close to a remarkable comeback victory over New Zealand? In the bowling ranks, Sheldon Cottrell has been a constant for the West Indies, the left-armer picking up nine wickets through six games, at an average of 25.55 and a miserly economy rate of 5.75. He comes into this one too off the back of his best display yet, taking 4-56.
Rohit Sharma had a first failure of the World Cup against Afghanistan, bowled by a beauty from Mujeeb Ur Rahman for one. But he still averages over 100 for the tournament and with Australian pair David Warner and Aaron Finch, and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan. further strengthening their place at the top of the leading run-scorers chart with impressive knocks this week, Sharma will be eager to respond and join them up at the top of the table. Also, Shami – what a way to announce yourself at a World Cup! Coming in for the injured Bhuvneshwar, and with India in danger of a shock defeat, Shami took a hat-trick to bowl Afghanistan out for 213 and clinch an 11-run win.
WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?
West Indies’ Chris Gayle on facing India after his IPL stints: “It’s an important game for us; there’s still a slim chance for us to qualify. India has been playing good cricket. Everyone knows their style of cricket, and hopefully we can conquer that tomorrow and get the better of them.
“I’m sure the fans are looking for some entertainment for sure, from not only me but from all the West Indies. Since we’ve actually been a part of India’s fraternity over the last couple of years, I know what style of cricket transpires in Indian cricket as well. Hopefully it will go down to the wire and West Indies win.”
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