“We’ll be fighting for those two points,” proclaimed Mithali Raj, India’s captain after the victory in the second ODI. She was referring to the points that are at stake since the series is part of the ICC Women’s Championship.
Currently, India are placed third on the points table – behind Australia and England – with nine wins. West Indies lie on a low seventh with 13 points. With India’s series against Pakistan in a great quandary, it will be imperative for them to grab those two points just to be safe.
Moving closer to the action, two players who haven’t featured in the series yet might make their first appearance. For the hosts, Hayley Matthews would get a definite look in, as her eight-match suspension has ended and she is eligible for selection. With Natasha McLean unable to bat in the second ODI after her injury, it remains to be seen if that is the swap that West Indies go with.
For India, Smriti Mandhana has a chance of playing the final ODI. Given that the top order has struggled to score quick runs, she will certainly be drafted in, most likely for Priya Punia, who was given a chance in the first place because of the southpaw’s absence against South Africa. But whether the tourists will risk hurrying Mandhana back from an injury – she had suffered a fracture on the right big toe – given that the T20 World Cup is only months away, remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, the odds are stacked against West Indies. Their last ODI series win came way back in October 2018 against Sri Lanka. What’s more, India haven’t been beaten in the format since March 2018, when they were whitewashed by Australia.
West Indies’ win in the first ODI and then their restricting India to 191 in the second ODI did raise hopes of a largely deemed unlikely series win. But with the series squared up and all to play for in the final match, expect a high-voltage clash at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. Unlike the first two games, the final one is a day fixture. Which team will better adapt to the change in conditions?
Who will win the ‘fight’?
India: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Punam Raut, D Hemalatha, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Priya Punia, Sushma Verma
West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (c), Anisa Mohammed (vc), Aaliyah Alleyne, Afy Fletcher, Shemaine Campbelle, Hayley Matthews, Caneisha Isaac, Chedean Nation, Stacy-Ann King, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Shabika Gajnabi, Sheneta Grimmond, Shawnisha Hector