Another bilateral series, another triumph. The Indian Cricket Team has made it a habit of running riot in the shorter formats at home, with Virat Kohli guiding the Indian side to their fifth consecutive ODI series win at home after they defeated West Indies by 9 wickets in the fifth and last ODI.
India vs West Indies: With the series poised 1-1 after three games, the onus was on Captain Virat Kohli and the Men in Blue to lead the charge and trounce their rivals, which is exactly how it panned out in the last two games.
Here are the 5 talking points from the series.
Virat “run-machine” Kohli
Words fall short to describe the enigma that is Virat Kohli. Breaking records by the dozen and leaving no opportunity amiss to rack up runs forms the Indian skipper’s epitaph. He started the series with a bang, scoring three consecutive hundreds en route notching up 10,000 ODI runs. The fact that he moved from 9,000 runs to five digits in just 11 innings, displays the hunger and the passion that has come to define the 29-year-old.
The player will be hopeful of carrying forward his form for the crucial season ahead, that begins with tours to Australia and New Zealand, capping off with the World Cup in June next year.
The lack of an effective third seamer and Umesh Yadav’s Woes
Much was expected from Umesh Yadav in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first three games of the series. However, the Vidarbha pacer’s woeful run not only forced the return of the dynamic duo for the last two games but also intensified the pressure on the Indian camp who are still in search for the third seamer, who can bowl economical overs and scalp crucial wickets in the middle.
Umesh finished with figures of 0 for 64 and 1 for 78 in the two games that he played and though he has risen in the Test arena due to his pace, he leaves a lot to be desired in the shorter formats. Khaleel Ahmed’s rise and persistent showings look promising and if he can maintain his composure on the big stage, he might have a huge role to play in England.
The questions surrounding Yuzvendra Chahal
Once the go-to player for Kohli, Yuzvendra Chahal’s diminishing impact and the rise of Ravindra Jadeja in the same interim has led to question marks over the place of the former. Not only is he proving to be expensive, but the wickets are also hard to come by as well for Chahal. The former chess player has taken 13 wickets in the last 11 ODIs and he has looked a pale shadow of his former self. Even on the field, Chahal is prone to spilling easy chances and with the conditions in all likelihood permitting Kohli to field just two spinners in Australia, New Zealand, and England, it might not be a surprise to see the wrist-spinner warm the benches.
Not only is Jadeja a better fielder, but he also is handy with the willow. Playing Chahal exposes India’s huge tail, which begins at number 7, and which led to the side’s downfall in the third ODI. Hence, unless the player can up the ante in all departments, he might just be a traveler overseas in the coming months.
Reliance on the top 3
The Indian batting unit is one of the contrasts. While the top three are at their formidable best, the rest of the batters look clueless and are often guilty of undoing the great foundation that has been laid by Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Kohli. The same was witnessed in the recently-concluded series as well, where a rare failure from the upper order players led to chaos, eventually ending in the rest of the middle order committing harakiri.
The fact that the management has been unable to zero down on the players for the middle order further makes it a weak spot. Though Ambati Rayudu has been successful in the last few games at number four, his prowess in swinging conditions is yet to be seen. With MS Dhoni’s waning form and no finisher in the side, the pressure on the top three is immense.
Dhoni’s batting form declines further
The former skipper has dented his reputation even further by amassing only 50 runs from three innings in the series. The player can no longer smash boundaries and sixes at will and is often guilty of consuming deliveries early on in his innings, which nullifies the momentum that had been garnered. The recent episode where he was booed at Lord’s and his inability to rotate the strike in the Asia Cup final only emphasize the dwindling power of the once-mighty cricketer.
He has been dropped from the upcoming T20I series, as calls for his head in the 50-over format are vociferous as well.