By Ravi Madholall
West Indies should start as favourite for the second and penultimate one-day against India on Wednesday after their resounding eight-wicket victory in the opener two days ago.
No doubt loyal fans are also harbouring the entertaining thoughts that the West Indians can create history as well, ending a one-day series drought against the hosts after a decade and half.
Reflecting on what had transpired in the pulsating encounter Sunday, West Indies cantered home with 13 balls to spare as they would have acknowledged two centurions in that special effort.
Number 3 batsman Shimron Hetmyer waltzed his way to an attractive 139, his highest limited-over international score while opener Shai Hope carted off an unbeaten 102 to help seal the deal to take a 1-0 lead.
West Indies started off well by winning the toss and invited India to bat first on a responsive pitch. They rallied along to a respectable 287-8 from the stipulated 50-overs.
One of their most essential batsmen Virat Kholi did not make a big impression on that occasion but because of his reliability over the years, many are expecting him to perform in this crucial clash for the Indians.
He only made 4 having bowled by left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell while another seasoned campaigner Kolesh Rahul fell cheaply. Their other main batter Rohit Sharma provided early impetus but was undone for 36. However, West Indies bowled well initially and should be confident enough to maintain that level of momentum to win the series.
They would be aware though that two young promising Indian batsmen came to the fore by hitting substantial scores. Wicketkeeper/batsman Rishabh Pant showcased his superb batting talent with 71 while another specialist batsman Shreyas Iyer played handsomely as well by contributing 70.
Even though there were loose deliveries for the entire innings, West Indies used seven bowlers to help keep India to that winnable target.
Only two spinners operated while the five seamers, including skipper Kieron Pollard, strengthened their optimism of delivering better come Wednesday on another track likely to be flat.
On the opposite side of the fence, West Indies batsmen pulverized the relatively inexperienced bowling line-up with some raining boundaries.
Their most senior bowler, quickie Mohammed Shami only grabbed a solitary wicket conceding 57 runs from nine overs while debutant Shivam Dube and Deepak Chahar were also expensive.
Whit that kind of batting display and their phenomenal batting form, motivated West Indies are confident to produce another show.
Notwithstanding that, India will want to square things up alluding to the fact they still have a realistic chance of winning the series to add to the 2-1 T20 preceding series triumph.
Kholi was named player-of-the-series having batted with aplomb chalking up scores of 94, 19 and 70.