India comprehensively defeated West Indies in the fourth match of what was supposed to be a five-game series, but was cut down to only three ODIs, first due to the cyclone in Vizag, and then West Indies' decision to pull out of the series following the game at Dharamshala, owing to payment issues. In the wake of what transpired before the game, the match turned out to be a bit of a farce, as West Indies seemed too eager to head back home. Their mindset reflected in their performance as they dropped simple catches, midfielded and pretty much threw their wickets away. Pity, only one team seemed interested in the match.
Although the Windies handed the game to India on a platter, the hosts would like to believe that they have gained a lot of positives from the match. Virat Kohli's name deserves a mention first up. The Indian batsman did get a half century in the last game, but that was more about getting back into the groove. At Dharamsala, he was his usual self. Back at his number three position, he did what he does best -- cutting, pulling and swiping the opponents into submission. Kohli also took the pains of rotating the strike early in innings, ensuring he did not play a bad shot, as a result of which India's impressive opening stand was not wasted.
Kohli apart, a few other Indian batsmen also took the opportunity to make merry against the demotivated West Indians. Ajinkya Rahane was in excellent form opening the innings. He hasn't had an impressive career in ODIs thus far, but the confidence of Test success seems to be rubbing off on his one-day career as well. At Dharamshala, he looked in complete control, never being in any sort of trouble against either pace or spin. It needed an unfortunate lbw decision to bring his impressive knock to a disappointing close. Rahane would nonetheless take a lot of confidence from the match into the upcoming games.
Suresh Raina's batting was another big plus for India. Of course, he wasn't out of form, but his continued success augurs very well for Team India. Starting with the hundred in England, the southpaw has been in a different zone altogether as a batsman. An in form Raina makes the team doubly dangerous, and the evidence of the same is there for all to see. Another massive boost for India from the match was the performance of newcomer Akshar Patel. The left-arm spinner, who was picked ahead of Amit Mishra for the match, justified his selection, troubling the batsmen with his accuracy , and never allowing them to hit out. The fact that he conceded only only boundary during his entire quota illustrates the kind of impact he had on the match.
As always, there were a few troublesome areas for India, even against the mild challenge of West Indies. At the top, Shikhar Dhawan once again failed to get going. He had low scores in two of the three matches, and again fell prey to the hook shot. India also need to be careful with Ambati Rayudu. They are pushing him up and down the order, which is unsettling the talented batsman. In the bowling department, Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja had a horror game a Dharamshala, indicating some work needs to be done on their bowling.
--By A Cricket Analyst