By KSHVID SPORTS DESK.
After defeating World Champions England in their backyard, team India have made it back-to-back away series wins with a victory over the West Indies. The series victory in the Caribbean was even more resounding as they white-washed the hosts 3-0 with a second-string side.
In the absence of plenty of first-team stars, the supporting cast has shown that they have what it takes to succeed at the top level, triumphing against a full-strength West Indies team. But the 3-0 scoreline perhaps doesn’t reflect the intensity and competitiveness with which the series has been contested. Here, we take a look at some of the talking points from the ODI series.
Gill stakes his claim
If there is one player that has enhanced his reputation the most during the course of the series, it has to be Shubman Gill. The young Indian opener, who although struggled in the test match against England, came into the series on the back of a successful IPL campaign where he played a key role in Gujarat Titans’ title-winning side.
Gill, who played his last white-ball game for India way back in 2020, has gone down the pecking order with the emergence of Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad. While he didn’t make an impression in the three matches that he played, scoring just 49 runs at 20.5. He was seen as a test specialist by the management, partly due to his strike rate issues in T20 cricket.
But the ODI format seems to play to his strengths perfectly as he can afford some time to settle into his innings, unlike the fast-paced nature of T20 cricket. Like some of his innings in the IPL this year, Gill attacked right from the get go. As Shikhar Dhawan struggled for timing at the other end, it was even more imperative that the right-hander scored at a decent rate. And Gill delivered, scoring 41(23), 30(33), 22(28) in the powerplay of the three ODI’s.
He went on to score two fifties, only missing a well-deserved hundred in the 3rd ODI because of rain. He topped the run-scoring charts for the series with 205 runs at an average of 102.50 and more importantly, at a strike rate of 102. While Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul are still ahead of him in the pecking order, Gill has time on his side and will look to cement his spot in the team.
Siraj’s redemption and Axar’s heroics
Mohammed Siraj has had a tough time on the field in the last six months, especially in white-ball cricket. A difficult South Africa and England tour in red-ball cricket was followed by his worst ever season in the IPL, where he conceded at an economy of 10.
Siraj got a lucky break due to an injury to Jasprit Bumrah in the 3rd ODI against England. He made an immediate impact, dismissing the in-form Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root in the same over. He brought that confidence over to the Caribbean as well. With 15 needed in the final over, the fast bowler was given the ball and he didn’t disappoint as India won by 3 runs.
In the 2nd ODI, he was the most economical of the Indian bowlers, conceding at 4.7 when West Indies scored 311. In the next game, he initiated a West Indies collapse, picking up two quick wickets.
Meanwhile, Axar Patel has done no harm to his reputation and is developing into a dependable understudy for Ravi Jadeja. India were in a precarious position at 205/5 after 39 overs when he entered the crease in the 2nd ODI. He took the team home with a brilliant innings of 64 off 35 balls, scoring India’s 2nd fastest fifty against West Indies.
The streak continues for the West Indies
This series will be a bitter pill to swallow for the host nation as they came close to winning in two of their three games. Nicholas Pooran’s young side have enjoyed some brief moments of dominance at various points in the series but are still a work in progress.
They have now lost their 8th consecutive ODI game and their record this year in the 50-over format does not make for good reading. They have already lost 12 games this year and have won only four. They are yet to register a win against a full-member nation, with three of their victories coming against the Netherlands and one against Ireland. They have now lost six of their last seven ODI series, which includes a 2-1 loss to Ireland at home.
Perhaps the thing that will satisfy Nicholas Pooran and Head Coach Phil Simmons is the performances of their batters this series. West Indies managed to cross 300 twice against a strong Indian bowling attack and have batted the entire 50 overs twice as well.
At a time when the relevance of ODI cricket is being questioned, this series has been a good advert for the format.
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