India play the third and final ODI against the West Indies in Cuttack Sunday eyeing a 10th straight bilateral series win over the Caribbean side. The West Indies took the home side by surprise in the opening ODI in Chennai to go one-up in the three-match series. But India, riding an all-round display, came back strongly to restore parity in the second match.
Barring a rare duck from skipper Virat Kohli, the Indian top-order fired in unison at Visakhapatnam, before hat-trick hero Kuldeep Yadav sliced through the West Indies line-up for a comprehensive 107 run victory. Three days after his blazing 159, Rohit Sharma stood just nine runs short of eclipsing former Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya's 22 year old record of being the highest run-scorer as an opener across all the formats. K L Rahul also struck a sublime century in a 220-run opening stand to firmly stake his claim as a long-term opener for India.
Opening the innings since the India-Pakistan World Cup clash in June, Rahul has made steady progress. In the recent assignments against the West Indies, he has been a revelation, scoring runs at will. Then the duo of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant chipped in with brisk knocks, and they would like to end the year on a positive note.
In bowling, Delhi pacer Navdeep Saini is in line to make his ODI debut in the absence of the inured Deepak Chahar, who was ruled out of the match with a lower back problem. The fielding, though, has failed to match the high standards India have set in recent years. While Iyer's effort to dismiss Shimron Hetmyer was eye-catching, Chahar dropped a sitter off Nicholas Pooran and grassed Shai Hope for a duck at the slip cordon, something that attracted Kohli's attention.
'We can't be dropping the catches and we should be better off in this department, improve on our mistakes. You should enjoy fielding,' the visibly-concerned Indian captain said. The pitch at the Barabati Stadium is going to be similar to the one in Visakhapatnam, offering plenty of runs.