What seemed like a warm-up series before the real test Down Under has heated up with West Indies’ finding their mojo in the 50-over format. Earning a tie at Vizag in an enthralling thriller, Windies levelled the series at Pune with a comfortable 43 run-win courtesy some strong showings from the team as a whole. India, who called up some key limited-overs players on emergency basis after the tie in the second match, was humbled by a confident Windies unit determined to make the hosts sweat.
Here is our players’ report card from the Pune ODI.
Returning to the side, Jasprit Bumrah enhanced his limited-overs credentials with another outstanding display at Pune. He sent back the Windies openers, nearly had Marlon Samuels trapped in front and put India in the driving seat early on, something which Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami had failed to achieve in the first two ODIs. In the death, Bumrah was his miserly self, giving away 18 in four overs and picking up a couple more wickets to finish with enviable figures of 4/35.
Having got the monkey off his back in the last ODI, Shai Hope appeared more care-free at the crease and the flamboyance and charisma, that has been a characteristic of his Test batting, seeped into his limited-overs game here. Even as he lost his trusted ally Shimron Hetmyer, Hope stood tall amidst the ruins, egged on his partners and composed a well made 95 at a decent strike rate. Hope is slowly maturing into the ODI batsman Windies wanted him to be and in the remaining games in the series, they will want him to affirm this belief.
With Hope falling five short of a hundred, the onus was on Ashley Nurse to take on some of the best death bowlers in world cricket. This he did with aplomb, helping Windies add 56 in 6 overs from Hope's dismissal to his own. Nurse was dismissed off the penultimate ball of the innings, having scored 40 off 22 balls, eventually taking Windies to a match-winning score. He returned to get rid of the two southpaws in the Indian line-up - Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant - in an economical 10-over spell and walked away with the Man of the Match award.
Kohli slammed his third consecutive hundred of the series but couldn't take India over the line as he ran out of reliable partners. The No 3 batsman stood tall amidst India’s shoddy middle-order and raced to his 38th ODI hundred, but fell to Marlon Samuels while shepherding the tail. The genuine team man that he is, the skipper was gutted by the loss but was quick to identify the positives from the game at the post match press conference.
In a tidy display with the ball, Holder sent back Rohit Sharma early to cut off one of Virat Kohli's trusted wingmen. Holder bowled within his limitations, cramped batsmen for room and never let them dominate. He added MS Dhoni's wicket to his tally just as Kohli was starting to flourish in the former skipper's company and finished with 2/46. Earlier, he played a handy role with the bat, ably supporting Hope as he went about dismantling India’s plans.
Samuels’ dreadful tour with the bat resumed as he was undone by an outside the off-stump delivery from Khaleel Ahmed. He has 22 runs in 3 innings this series, a stark contrast to his numbers in India prior to this tour. That said, he turned around his day miraculously by sending back centurion Virat Kohli at a crucial juncture in the game and added two more to his kitty to seal a win for Windies.
Dripping with confidence after two exceptional knocks in the last week, Hetmyer got off to another flier, slamming Yuzvendra Chahal for a four and a six off consecutive balls. Kuldeep, who had picked up his wicket three times in the Test series was brought on by Kohli but Hetmyer greeted him with a boundary and slogged a six in the next over to reveal his intentions of not backing down. That, though, is a risky proposition against the chinaman spinner and it was proved when he deceived the left-hander with his flight in the next over.
Having impressed with his variations at Vizag, Obed McCoy went about enhancing his reputation as he dismissed Ambati Rayudu and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, both wickets coming at a time India needed them to lend a hand to Virat Kohli. Rayudu was undone by a short delivery from McCoy, inside edging onto the stumps, while Bhuvneshwar was dismissed while aiming to loft him inside out. He might have had another scalp — that of Rishabh Pant — had Fabian Allen held onto a tough chance. Even if McCoy's economy is a concern, there are enough signs to show that he could be a valuable asset in this ODI line-up.
With the Shai Hope-Shimron Hetmyer partnership once again threatening to take flight at Pune, Kuldeep Yadav was brought on to break the stand. He promptly responded by flummoxing the southpaw in flight and added one more — that of Rovman Powell — to further dent the visitors. His 10-over spell cost 52 but he continues to be a potent threat for attacking batsmen.
The West Indian new ball bowler had another ordinary outing at Pune, although this time he did manage to put a leash on the scoring rate. While Jason Holder and Obed McCoy were quite impressive, Roach flew under the radar, despite his reputation of being a wicket-taker. He might have two more games to turn around his messy strike rate in this series but with Oshane Thomas and Keemo Paul waiting in the wings, even that isn't assured.
Dhawan continued his unspectacular run in the series, kicking off on a hurry only to fall to Ashley Nurse just like at Vizag. Dhawan has been a tad vulnerable to off-spin of late and Nurse has exploited this weakness twice in this series despite the opener getting off to impressive starts. Dhawan might want to ensure he finds form particularly with Rahul waiting for a chance in the bench.
Yuzvendra Chahal has been guilty of gifting quite a few freebies to the likes of Hetmyer, and the trend resumed at Pune with him conceding four maximums in his 10-over spell. Chahal's juicy wrist spin turned out to be fodder for Hope and Hetmyer and the duo made him pay for his fuller lengths. It's been a while since Chahal made a massive impact in a game and he would be hoping to put an end to this in the remaining two matches.
On his ODI debut, Fabien Allen put in a pleasing display against Virat Kohli and co. The left-arm spinner wasn't scared to flight the ball and managed to keep the scoring rate under check. Unlike Devendra Bishoo, who has had a terrible series, Allen focussed on restricting the scoring areas of the wristy Indian batsmen and managed to tick a lot of right boxes.
Picked as the third seamer behind Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar, Khaleel had the freedom to express himself as a first-change bowler. By the time he was into the attack, Windies had lost their openers and the middle-order batsmen hadn't settled down yet. But the left-arm seamer couldn't quite make his opportunity count although he did get rid of an out-of-form Marlon Samuels. His ten-over spell cost 65 and while his left-arm variation adds a different dimension to India’s attack, he hasn't done enough to demand a long run.
Days after a brilliant 73 to aid his skipper on a belter of a surface, Ambati Rayudu found the going tougher as India were left chasing a considerably high total on a sluggish surface. He ambled along to 22 at a strike rate just over 80 but fell to a shorter delivery from Obed McCoy. Consistency has been a virtue absent from India's No 4 experiments and Rayudu wouldn't want to go down that road, especially after Kohli emphasized his confidence in Rayudu.
With a golden chance to seal his spot in the playing XI, Rishabh Pant batted with the kind of freedom that has seen him become a golden boy in India's domestic circuit. He pummeled the Windies spinners on his way to a rapid 24 but fell to Ashley Nurse just as he was looking good for a big one. The wicket-keeper batsman was dismissed on the sweep for the second time this series, although this one came as he gloved a ball down leg-side.
Dropped/Rested from the T20I sides, Dhoni seemed like he had a point to prove as he plucked a brilliant running catch to dismiss Chandrapaul Hemraj. His caliber in run-chases of late has been questionable and it came to the fore again as he walked out with India needing more than six an over to win. He fell for seven, going after a length ball from Jason Holder, much to the disappointment of his fans.
Kickstarting his innings in style, Chandrapaul took on India's best limited-overs bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, and raced to 15 with a six and couple of fours. But the end came quickly as MS Dhoni pulled off an outstanding catch to dismiss the flashy opener. Hemraj has been getting starts this series only to throw them away and if he wants to secure a berth for the World Cup, the left-hander will need to make these starts count.
Powell stuck to his success mantra this series — start off by going hammer and tongs — but found quite a competitor in Jasprit Bumrah. The seamer eked out an edge off Powell to dismiss him after an enterprising start. Powell had been guilty of throwing away starts at the beginning of his career and over the course of this series, the tendency has been on display more than once.
Bhuvneshwar's return to the ODI fold wasn't as swift as Bumrah and the rustiness showed when he missed his length quite often in the death overs. While he was meticulous and composed with the new ball, giving away 16 in his first four overs, the Meerut seamer leaked 31 in his final two overs with his final over costing 21.
Rovman Powell has been given a crucial role in the Windies middle-order at No 6 and despite getting a few consistent chances, the big hitter hasn't quite made it count. He has fallen to left-arm spin in all three innings’ this series with Kuldeep contributing to two dismissals. Powell was narrowed down to replicate the Andre Russell role in the ODI side but hasn't fit into the latter's shoes quite well.
Hours after his surprise inclusion in the Test side, Rohit Sharma showcased a persisting vulnerability against the moving ball to spark off criticisms from all quarters. The opener was squared up by Jason Holder and fell without making an impact for the second time this series. It is this carelessness that Rohit might want to steer clear of if he gets a chance in the Tests Down Under.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor