5 Takeaways for India from the tour of Caribbean

India took a lot of positives from this tour of the West Indies which will be very helpful in the build up for the World Cup in 2019.

Kuldeep Yadav India
India. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

The short tour of the West Indies came to an end yesterday. The home side will be delighted to finish the series with a 9 wicket win over a strong Indian side at the Sabina Park in Jamaica. Evin Lewis made light work of a stiff 190 run target set by Kohli’s men by scoring an entertaining 125* off 62 balls.

India were expected to remain unbeaten in the entire tour but in the end, they managed to lose 2 out of 5 completed games in the Caribbean. In the ODI series, the first game was abandoned due to rain after India reached to a strong position in the 40th over. Indian bowling was clinical during the 50-over format as the home side didn’t cross the 205-run mark in the entire series. But the batting let them down in the fourth ODI held at Antigua when they failed to chase 190 after batting almost the entire quota of their 50 overs.

Usually, India used to send a lot of new players for the tour of the West Indies but this time around the selectors chose to send a full strength squad with the exception of regulars Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. Young guns Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav were drafted into the squad to replace the rested duo of Rohit and Jasprit. While Kuldeep impressed during the series, Pant wasn’t given a chance until the T20 game. Though it wasn’t a perfect series for India, there were a few positives that emerged out of the 3-week tour.

We bring you the 5 takeaways for India from the tour of the West Indies:

1) Kuldeep Yadav’s evolvement

Kuldeep had never played a limited overs game for India prior to the West Indies tour. Citing the need of a wrist spinner in their ranks, India debuted him in the first game itself and played the chinaman bowler in every single game on the tour. He did a phenomenal job by picking 8 wickets in 4 completed ODIs at an average of 19.75. His economy rate, which stood at 4.05 was very impressive as well. Yadav took the big wicket of Chris Gayle in the solitary T20 which, again, highlighting his ability to pick wickets which is a key in limited overs cricket.

The remarkable aspect of the 22-year old’s bowling is the mystery element. Plenty of the host’s batsmen failed to pick his variations and were confined to play him off the surface which brought the downfall of them. Kohli was very pleased with the Kanpur-born cricketer who is equally potent against the right and left handed batsmen.

2) Consistency of Ajinkya Rahane

While the Mumbaikar is the vice-captain of the Test side and a key member of the unit, Rahane was always in and out of the ODI team. He wasn’t given a fixed batting slot which made it difficult for the 29-year old to cement his position in the side. With Rohit Sharma rested, Rahane got a chance to play a full series as an opener. He began well by scoring a solid 62 and went on to post scores of 102, 72, 60 and 39 to finish the series with 336 runs at 67.20. His strike rate of 77 on the slow and low surfaces of West Indies was acceptable given that he was asked to build a solid foundation for the power hitters to come and explode at the end.

With Rohit set to come back in the side, Rahane has made a case for himself in the middle order. He was tried at the No. 4 slot earlier but lost his position after registering a string of low scores. With Yuvraj’s prowess on the wane, Rahane can be sent in the middle order for the time being.

3) Dinesh Karthik’s solid showings

Karthik led his state side Tamil Nadu to two 50-over competition titles – Vijay Hazare Trophy and Deodhar Trophy – after scoring centuries in each competition finals. A decent IPL season with the Gujarat Lions followed which led to his selection in the squad for the ICC Champions Trophy. While his services were not required in England, Karthik was drafted into the XI for the last two games of the ODI series where he scored 2 and an unbeaten 50. A fine 48 in the T20 game followed, capping a good return to the national squad.

Rishabh Pant is fairly young and inexperienced. With Dhoni getting on with the years, Karthik could be an understudy to the Jharkhand boy for the next two years. His batting has improved phenomenally over the last two years which resulted in him warranting a place in the side as a pure batsman alone. Karthik, through his fine knocks, has staked a claim in the little rickety middle order of India.

4) Hardik Pandya’s contribution with the ball

The young Pandya got just 2 hits in the entire tour but did get a fair number of chances with the ball where he impressed a lot. The unique aspect of Pandya is that he is equally threatening with both bat and ball. His bowling, though, was a little concerning as he had the tendency to leak runs and confined to bowling short whenever he was whacked for runs. In this series, however, Pandya bowled smartly to finish the ODI series with 6 sticks from 4 innings. His economy rate of 4.22 is much lower than his career’s 5.45. The Baroda boy’s learning from this tour as a bowler will keep him in good stead for the future.

5) Mohammed Shami’s come back to limited overs cricket

Shami spent two years out of the ODI side. After being recalled into the limited overs fold, the fast bowler had to warm the bench for 7 straight games before getting an opportunity in the fourth ODI. He returned with great figures of 0/33 off his 10 and picked his 6th four-wicket haul in the next ODI, returning with 4/48. The 26-year old has yet again shown his wicket-taking ability in the ODI series. In the T20 game, he was very expensive but one off game doesn’t take anything away from the Bengal fast bowler.

India has a strong pool of fast bowlers now with Shami announcing his return to limited overs cricket. With Bumrah, Umesh and Bhuvneshwar already in their ranks, the fast bowling department’s talent pool is exceptional.