India registered a thumping 3-0 win over West Indies in the recently concluded ODI series in Trinidad, furthering their success against the Caribbean unit in the 50-over format.
The Men in Blue, led by Shikhar Dhawan, were without the services of first-team players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah, among others. That didn't deter the visitors, as they defeated the host nation in all three encounters to effect a whitewash.
The Windies, meanwhile, slumped to their third consecutive ODI series loss and will have a few areas to address at the earliest. They had earlier lost their campaigns against Pakistan and Bangladesh. Incidentally, both of them by a 3-0 margin.
The two sides will now lock horns with each other in a five-match T20I series, starting on Friday, July 29.
In light of the Men in Blue's successful campaign against the Windies, let's take a look at three reasons why they finished on the winning side.
#1 Performance of the top-order batters
The top-order has carried the onus of scoring the bulk of the runs for India in recent times and it wasn't any different against West Indies. Batting first in the first ODI, Shikhar Dhawan (97) and Shubman Gill (64) shared a 119-run opening stand. After Gill's dismissal, Shreyas Iyer (54) continued the scoring and shared a 96-run stand with Dhawan.
While Dhawan was dismissed early in the second ODI, Gill and Iyer came up with handy knocks of 43 and 63, respectively. They were instrumental in India chasing down the 312-run target.
Gill was in scintillating form in the third ODI, remaining unbeaten on 98. He was aided by Dhawan (58) and Iyer (44) as the Men in Blue scored 225 runs for the loss of three wickets in the rain-curtailed match.
#2 Good performance of the bowling-unit
The Indian bowling unit has been in good form in recent months and the results were evident in Trinidad. The likes of Mohammed Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal led the charge in the absence of the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami.
Siraj was exceptional throughout the series, picking up four wickets and stopping the flow of runs at the death. He successfully defended 15 runs in the last over to hand India a slender three-run win in the first ODI.
Chahal took the onus of derailing the Windies' chances of preventing a whitewash in the third ODI, finishing with figures of 4/17 in four overs.
Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel were some of the other bowlers to come up with meaningful contributions with the ball. Thakur was the pick of the bowlers in the second ODI, picking up three wickets for 54 runs in seven overs. Axar, meanwhile, bagged only two wickets in the series but was tough to score against, finishing with an economy of 5.5.
#3 The middle-order stepping up when needed
As mentioned earlier, India have been a top-heavy side in recent years and have the top-three batters to attribute their success to. While the likes of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Dhawan and Virat Kohli have played some memorable knocks over the years, the overreliance on them has often backfired.
Understandably, the team management has tested out a variety of options in the past to solve the middle-order conundrum, but with little success. However, things were vastly different this time around as the middle-order stepped up and even outperformed the top-order batters on certain occasions.
Were it not for Sanju Samson (54), Deepak Hooda (33) and Axar Patel (64), the Men in Blue were looking at the jaws of defeat in the second ODI. Chasing a target of 312, the visitors were four down for 178 runs when Samson and Hooda steadied the ship.
India were once again in a spot of bother, having lost a few quick wickets in the death overs when Axar stepped up. With a stiff target to scale, the southpaw smashed an unbeaten 35-ball 64 to take his team over the line.
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