World Cup: Team India take on ‘mercurial’ West Indies Thursday

Chennai: Team India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in their last encounter against Afghanistan, while Windies almost won their last game against mighty New Zealand until a wonderful catch at deep by Trent Boult meant defeat for the Caribbeans. It is now time for the Men in Blue to face Calypso music tomorrow in the ICC World Cup.

India will aim to continue their winning streak and inch a step closer to a spot in the semi-finals. Having played five games so far, Indians have won four and there was a rain washout (against Kiwis).

West Indies began with a bang, defeating Pakistan. From thereon, it was a mediocre campaign for them until their last encounter.

Playing New Zealand, they were struggling at 160 for 7 until Braithwaite arrived. His century lifted their spirits. However, they lost by six runs but won the hearts of sports-lovers.

Windies have played six matches and won just one losing four and a washout. They need to win their remaining three matches and hope for a miracle to book a berth in semi-finals.

The biggest worry for Windies is that Andre Russell, who appeared to be in discomfort each time he stepped on to the field, has been ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury.

Chris Gayle is among the runs while Hetmeyer and Pooran are doing their best with the willow. Bowling depends heavily on Holder and Cottrell.

For India, their batsmen gave a scare, managing just 224 against minnows Afghanistan. Rahul, Rohit may have failed with the bat in the last encounter, but have enough in them to score big.

Kohli has managed three fifties so far. Vijay Shankar got a start but a lot is expected of him. Kedhar Jadhav managed 52 but all eyes would be on Dhoni who played at snail’s pace the other night.

The Indian bowlers once again proved their match-winning capabilities as they successfully defended a below-par score against Afghanistan Saturday. Mohammed Shami, who picked up a hat-trick in Southampton, is likely to retain his place in the playing XI as India are unlikely to risk playing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury.

WATCH OUT FOR

Virat Kohli: The Indian captain has scored fifties in each of his last three innings to give enough evidence of his batting form. Kohli has 41 one-day international hundreds to his name and averages 70.77 against West Indies.

Sheldon Cottrell: The tall, left-arm pacer from Jamaica has been a strike bowler for West Indies in this tournament, producing performances worthy of a ‘salute’.

M BHARAT KUMAR