Against World No. 9 West Indies, who had to go through the qualifiers for 2019 World Cup, World No. 1 India begin their final round of preparation for next year’s showpiece event hoping to fix whatever anomalies there may be. The two play the first of the five ODIs at the Bhupen Hazarika Stadium on Sunday. According to skipper Virat Kohli, things are hunky dory with just the No. 4 batting spot a point of bother. Perhaps an equal cause of worry is the lack of a strong finisher.
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Pant ready for action
After impressing in Test cricket, young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant could well be handed a debut in the first match of the ODI series against West Indies in Guwahati. Pant, who has been prolific with the bat in the last three Test innings, took to Twitter and posted a message which is a great hint about him getting the ODI cap in the first match. “Always ready to give my 100 per cent on a cricket field. Cannot wait to take on the West Indies in the first ODI on Sunday! #IndiaVsWestIndies #comingup,” he wrote on Twitter.
India captain Virat Kohli on Saturday said his side’s middle-order puzzle will be solved if Ambati Rayudu cements his place at the crucial No. 4 position in the matches ahead of next year’s World Cup. Kohli said the challenge was only to find someone for the No. 4 slot and with Rayudu stepping up for that position in recent times, the batting order was more or less settled. “The only position we were trying to figure out was number four for a long time. We tried many players who unfortunately could not capitalise or cement their places in a way we wanted,” Kohli said ahead of the first one-dayer against the West Indies on Sunday. “With Rayudu coming in and playing well in the Asia Cup, it’s about giving him enough game time till the World Cup so that the particular slot will be sorted for us,” he added.
Hello and welcome
A formidable India will hope to get more answers for their unresolved middle-order puzzle when they take on a reeling West Indies in the five-match ODI series starting on Sunday, ticking off the home team’s countdown to the 2019 World Cup. The World Cup in England is less than eight months away and India have 18-odd games left to decide their middle order, mainly the number four position where many have been tried but with little success. The series will also mark captain Virat Kohli’s return to white-ball cricket as he had taken a much needed break during the team’s triumphant campaign in Asia Cup. Kohli is expected try out a new combination in the middle order that will see Rishabh Pant make his ODI debut, following his exploits in the longest format. The focus once again will be on MS Dhoni, whose batting ability is on the wane and with limited playing time in the middle, the job gets only tougher for the legendary cricketer. However, chief selector MSK Prasad has time and again said that Dhoni remains the first choice wicketkeeper at least till the World Cup.
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