STAR PREVIEW: West Indies v India

For the first time in this tournament, we now have to evaluate a game where one of the sides is basically eliminated, and one of the sides is on the verge of going through. When Carlos Braithwaite holed out to Kane Williamson, the Windies’ chances of making it to the last four essentially evaporated and despite Pakistan’s victory over New Zealand, it looks unlikely that the Windies will make the semi-finals.

India, who are now the only unbeaten team in the tournament following yesterday’s defeat for New Zealand, are long odds on against the West Indies to essentially put themselves into the last four with victory.

It’s no surprise this is the case. Their top order, made of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar, and MS Dhoni, has four players averaging over 60 for the tournament. At the other end, five of their bowlers have an economy rate of five runs or under with Yuzvendra Chahal and Jasprit Bumrah having 15 wickets between them so far.

Mid tournament injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar means that MS Dhoni has had to turn to Mohammed Shami, who duly rewarded him with a hat-trick to close out a thriller against Afghanistan at the weekend, reminding all and sundry that the Indians have strength in depth, especially when it comes to quick bowling.

Against Afghanistan, for the first time his tournament they were locked into a tight battle when spinners came out on top, but they – Shami especially – managed to hold their nerve even when defending a low total.

West Indies’ have been notable for some big hitting (are they ever not?) and the swashbuckling celebration of one bowler in particular, but their tournament hasn’t lived upto the sheer expectation that their early trashing of Pakistan offered. That might read hardly, but for a handful of runs either way, they could well be looking at a semi-final.

The big hitting of Caros Braithwaite saw them come oh so close to upsetting New Zealand and he’ll have his backers in the Top Batsman, market, although the top of the order might make more of an impact today. Chris Gayle was much more like his old self against New Zealand with 87, although he has blown hot and cold during this tournament and f Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran all ought to be there or thereabouts.

The Windies bowling has been their main strength and they will take encouragement from their close defeats to New Zealand and Australia (along with seeing Afghanistan push India so closely). Sheldon Cottrell has become famous for his salutes, but he’s bowling well enough to keep doing them and against New Zealand, he was the star, taking four wickets, two catches and a run out. That was his best bowling performance of the tournament so far and he looks sure to get a full rotation from Jason Holder and if he continues in the same vein then he can lead the charge again.

For the Indians, Rohit Sharma makes the most appeal to lead their battling effort. He will have to face some fearsome bowling, but Sharma managed to survive early efforts from the Australian and Pakistani bowling attacks and at this tournament he has scored 122, 57, 140 and 1 in his last four starts. The bowling of Mujeeb Ur Rhaman caught him out early at the weekend but otherwise he has knuckled down superbly and if he can get himself set, the scoring averages say that you will get a good run for your money at 9/4.

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