December 22: India v West Indies, 3rd ODI in Cuttack
Our XI: Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran, Shai Hope, Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder, Mohammed Shami, Sheldon Cottrell, Kuldeep Yadav
NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about a late injury (or other relevant) updates
Captain: Virat Kohli
Kohli loves batting against West Indies. He has 19 fifty-plus scores against them in 37 innings – that’s one every two innings. It’s a bit of an anomaly that he has gone two matches without getting into double-figures. Given the form he was in during the T20Is, expect him to come back with force in the final ODI.
Vice-captain: KL Rahul
Rahul has been in superb rhythm in white-ball cricket this home season and seems to have added a calm to his wonderful hitting game. That has made him consistent and a good bet to make another big score.
India find it hard to stop this man, and on a good batting pitch, he could make it even harder. Hope’s been given a role that he’s playing to perfection for his team.
Kuldeep has been patiently trying to get out of a slight dip in bowling form this year and the confidence from his hat-trick in the second ODI would have been a great boost for the spinner. Playing against a team whose middle order looks to relentlessly attack opens up wicket-taking opportunities for Kuldeep.
Pooran flies under the radar in this West Indies side but has been one of their biggest finds in the last year. He doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses and his game seems perfectly suited to the kind of pitches he will get in India.
Shreyas Iyer: At this point, the Indian team itself picks Iyer for value. And he has delivered it every time and in varying circumstances. He has changed gears as required and is in full flow at the moment with his prolonged opportunity at No. 4
Sheldon Cottrell: We saw a rare downer from Cottrell in the second ODI, where he looked down and out right from the start of India’s innings. Expect him to bounce back like the reliable player he has been for West Indies.
Kieron Pollard: West Indies’ new captain has been tremendously positive in representing this team at press conferences and is committed to take them forward with aggression. With a series win on the line, Pollard is a good pick given his habit of showing up in big games.
Point to note
The last ODI at this venue, between India and England, was a run fest. India made 381 and England fell short by just 15 in their chase. It’s been two years since, so there’s no telling if that trend holds up, but you might want to err on the side of more batting options with your picks.