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West Indies pacers to test Indians on quick Dharamsala track

With ODI series tied 1-1, India's batsmen will be tested on a track that promises bounce when they clash with West Indies at the picturesque venue of Dharamsala

Dharamsala: Bolstered by their dramatic come-from-behind win in the last game, India will look to keep the winning momentum going when they meet West Indies in the fourth one-dayer here today on what is expected to be a pacy track.

Team India's director of cricket Ravi Shastri (right) with opener Shikhar Dhawan during a practice session ahead of the fourth ODI in Dharamsala yesterday. Pics/PTI
Team India's director of cricket Ravi Shastri (right) with opener Shikhar Dhawan during a practice session ahead of the fourth ODI in Dharamsala yesterday. Pics/PTI

The series is locked at 1-1 and the picturesque HPCA Stadium will provide the perfect setting as the two teams square off to seize the initiative before the final match of the series is played at Eden Gardens on October 20.

India's series-levelling victory at the Kotla was combination of West Indies' self destruction while cruising towards an easy win and also inability to play on a track where there is some turn on offer.

The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra exploited the helpful conditions perfectly as West Indies lost eight wickets for 45 runs in their pursuit of a competitive total of 263.

Difficult for spinners
However, India might find it difficult for their spinners to extract the same kind of help from the track here as they have done from 22-yard strip in Delhi.

All set: A view of the Dharamsala ground
All set: A view of the Dharamsala ground 

Notwithstanding the erratic display from the Caribbean batsmen, the battle in the backdrop of the Dhauladar mountain range should be exciting, considering the fast and bouncy nature of the pitch.

There is always a chance of rain in the hills. Therefore, even a light spell of shower will further aid the pacemen besides making the conditions colder.

The teams chose to stay put in Delhi post the match on October 11 and arrived at a much-higher altitude here only on the eve of the match.

Facing a decent West Indies pace attack on a lively surface will be a test for the Indian batsmen. The home team had a tough time batting first here against England in January 2013, when it lost half its men for 79 runs before going on to lose the match.

The best thing to come out of the Kotla game for India is Virat Kohli hitting some sort of form after a prolonged lean patch.

A gritty 62 on a typically low and slow Kotla wicket must have done his confidence a world of good. It also proved Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to drop Kohli down the batting order at four behind Ambati Rayudu worked and the skipper is expected to stick to the same sequence.

Ishant to play?
Chief curator Sunil Chauhan has promised the wicket will assist the fast bowlers and that might make either captain consider a four-pronged pace attack. In that scenario, leggie Amit Mishra could make way for Ishant Sharma. With pitch offering some bounce and lateral movement, Ishant's bowling might just be ideal for this kind of track.

The World Cup not being far away and Ishant would like to throw his hat in the ring for being one of Dhoni's trusted lieutenant in the pace bowling department when the marquee event starts in February next year.

While the Indian pacers haven't exactly set the stage on fire during the two ODIs, one man, who has surely impressed is Mohammed Shami. Shami, with eight wickets from two games, is now the highest wicket-taker in the series and by far looked the best pacer on view during the death overs with his consistent deliveries in the blockhole.

Though young left-arm spinner Akshar Patel has been included in the squad for the last two ODIs, he is unlikely to make it to the playing XI as two left-arm spinners would make the attack one-dimensional. It also seems rookie chinaman Kuldeep Yadav will have to wait longer for his international debut.

250
Skipper MS Dhoni will become the eighth Indian player to feature in 250 ODIs when he steps out onto the ground today 

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