Both sides will be anxious for the points in Thursday’s encounter for very different reasons. For the West Indies, nothing more than a win will suffice if they are to have any chance of making it through to the semifinals of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
India looks a certain bet for the top four but victory in this clash at Old Trafford will confirm that position.
India was taken to the wire by lowly Afghanistan but they edged through and are clearly the favorites for Thursday’s contest. Virat Kohli’s side is available at odds of -350 while a win for the West Indies can be claimed at +275.
It’s clear that the sportsbooks have made up their minds but is the outcome as obvious as those prices indicate?
We now know that India will be without Shikhar Dhawan for the rest of the World Cup. We suspected that this might be the case but it’s been confirmed that the hairline fracture sustained sees the left-hander leave the squad.
Does this offer the West Indies any hope? India arrived in England with what looks to be the strongest top three in ODI cricket. The one day rankings essentially confirmed that with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma occupying the top two places. Dhawan wasn’t too far behind but that trio has now been broken up due to his injury.
In his place, KL Rahul has been moved up the order to cover and while he’s a capable batsman, he isn’t quite in Shikhar Dhawan’s class yet. The West Indies will need to target Rahul’s wicket early and hope that this puts the pressure on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as they follow.
The other key battle is between West Indies’ top order and India’s improving spinners. Much was expected of Chris Gayle after a dazzling ODI series against England earlier in the year but the big left-hander just hasn’t fired at this World Cup.
The West Indies have a promising side now with some good developing youngsters but it seems as though Gayle is pivotal to their chances.
At the other end of those 22 yards, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are really starting to find their rhythm. With seamer Mohammed Shami picking up the first hat trick of this World Cup, India’s bowling unit is in good shape and will have a big role to perform at Old Trafford.
India proved that it can be beaten at the weekend but that shock against Afghanistan should result in a big response from Virat Kohli and his men. We’ve made much about the loss of Shikhar Dhawan and while this will be a concern in the knockouts, India should have no issues with Thursday’s match.
The bowlers will need to get Chris Gayle early but we’re expecting a return to form and another two points for India at Old Trafford.