Defending Champions India are on a roll, having won all three of their cricket World Cup matches, and are favourites to make it four out of four when they take on two-times former champions West Indies in a Pool B contest on the fast, bouncy WACA wicket here.
For the West Indies, who have won two and lost two, it is a crucial game. A win will certainly put Jason Holder’s men on course for the quarter-finals while a loss will put heavy dependence on their last group match against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Napier on March 15.
The inconsistent Windies started the tournament on a poor note, losing their opener to minnows Ireland but came back well to defeat Pakistan and Zimbabwe. However, they received a heavy drubbing at the hands of South Africa in their last fixture in Sydney on February 27.
The advantage for the Windies players is that they know their Indian counterparts well, thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Caribbean side have several players who play in the cash-rich Twenty20 league and will be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Indians.
As unpredictable as they have been in this World Cup, the West Indies have racked up 300-plus totals all the three times they batted first, including their loss to Ireland. But they also gave away 408 runs when the South Africans batted first. However, in India, they will face the most economical attack of the tournament.
How they tackle spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be significant as the duo are regular at lowering the run-rate of the opposition. Ashwin has been in form, being India’s leading wicket taker in the tournament so far.
Indian pacers will have to keep explosive opener Chris Gayle in check because if the tall left-hander gets going, he can rip apart any bowling attack. The same goes for the squad which is totally unpredictable.
India on the other hand are familiar with the conditions having been in Australia for three months. Also, they played their last match against the UAE here and will be fine-tuned to the conditions.
The Indian batsmen are in good knick with almost all of them being among the runs lately. However, they could be tested by the Windies quickies, who are coached by the legendary Curtly Ambrose, on the pacy WACA wicket.
Also, it is India’s fourth and last group match in Australia before they move to the smaller grounds of Hamilton and Auckland in New Zealand.
On the team front, pacer Mohammed Shami who was ruled out of the previous game against UAE with a knee issue, has bowled at the nets and could be back in the playing eleven.
It will be interesting to see what combination captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni goes with for the bowling line-up with the probable return of Shami as the batting order is likely to remain the same.