The Champions Trophy winners have suddenly looked vulnerable as the young Indian players found it tough to come to terms with the challenging conditions. As if the two-paced Caribbean wickets were not enough to trouble the Indians, injury to charismatic skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has only made the job tough for them.
Tomorrow's contest comes as a huge challenge and test for the leadership quality of Virat Kohli, who is being considered as a future captain of the country. Kohli's tactics during the big-defeat against Sri Lanka did not work and it will be interesting to see how he leads the young pack in the pressure match, where a defeat will virtually ensure their elimination. West Indies are best placed so far with nine points, courtesy two wins from as many matches while Sri Lanka are second with five points.
Both the teams have managed to win a bonus point. A victory tomorrow will keep India alive in the competition. Their defeat would send the hosts into the final and from there, India's chances to qualify for the final will depend on a lot of ifs and buts.
First and foremost, India would need a favour from the West Indies that the hosts beat Sri Lanka in their final league match on Sunday and then India will have to beat the Asian neighbours on Tuesday in a certain number of overs to make it to the summit clash. India's victory tomorrow will keep the tournament open as all three teams will have a chance to book a place in the title clash.
Considering the grim situation, India need stroke-maker Shikhar Dhawan to yet again provide a solid opening along with Rohit Sharma, who is the only one so far from the side to score a half-century. In the first two matches, their partnership has not gone beyond five overs. It's crucial that the two batsmen click as India thrives on good starts. The players are in form and they need to apply better acording to conditions.
The bowlers struggled to find length against Sri Lanka and repeat of the same will be suicidal against the big-hitting Caribbean players. Chris Gayle is always a big threat and his opening partner Johnson Charles has also given a good account of himself. Kieron Pollard in the middle and Darren Sammy in the lower order are also capable of taking the game away from the opposition on their day.
India may leave out Shami Ahmed and bring back Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. It is also unlikely that Ambati Rayudu will get his debut match in the crucial game. For West Indies, captain Dwayne Bravo is likely to come back to side, having missed the India match due to a groin strain.
Teams (from) -
India: Virat Kohli (Capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Umesh Uadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Shami Ahmed and R Vinay Kumar.
West Indies: Dwayne Bravo (Capt), Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Jason Holderm, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, and Devon Smith.
Match starts at 7 pm (IST).