INDORE: Australia can wait. India have an unfinished business before they launch their eagerly awaited tour Down Under. The West Indies are proving too sticky for the Indians and they need to be on the guard, lest the visitors run away with the series.
Stand-in captain Virender Sehwag knows well that his team needs to deliver the knockout punch in the fourth one-day international at the Holkar Stadium on Thursday, rather than leave the fate of the five-match series to the final game in Chennai.
"It's time the top-order fired. It's important for the openers to give a good start, not only in the context of this match but also for the greater challenges we would be facing in Australia.
"The middle-order has done well, but now both Gauti and I need to put runs on the board," he said, before adding, "We would like to settle the series here itself and for that we need to put our hands up, especially me. It's just a matter of getting back into rhythm, as I am timing the ball well."
India could have been tempted to bring in Ajinkya Rahane, but with still a lot at stake in the series, they may well stick with Gambhir. Besides the poor form of the top-order, another area of concern for India has been their bowling at the death. The bowlers have leaked runs, enabling the West Indies to come back strongly. First it was Ravi Rampaul's heroic blitzkrieg at Visakhapatnam and then skipper Darren Sammy's cameo in Ahmedabad that sent the rival bowling in disarray.
"We have let the West Indies off the hook during the slog overs. We need to tighten things and not give their batsmen too many opportunities with loose balls. Hopefully, the bowlers have learnt their lessons and will give an improved display," Viru said on the eve of the tie.
India have had an inexperienced bowling attack in the first three games, but with the return of Irfan Pathan things should look up, especially in the final overs. Though he lacks pace, the Baroda left-arm seamer is a wily customer and has the ability to keep a check on the free-flowing Caribbean batsmen.
But it will not be easy, as he is making a comeback after a long gap. He will need to show character to make an impression in a game which could well decide his future.
Having run India close in the three games, the West Indies may well fancy their chances of keeping the series alive till the final match, despite the absence of Darren Bravo due to hamstring injury he suffered at Ahmedabad. The Indians have been taken aback by the resilience shown by their rivals and the visitors would be eager to catch the Indians off-guard again.
"We have been making late recoveries, but I hope the main batsmen come to the party and help us post a total which could challenge the Indians. Not that we have not done, but it has been mostly due to the effort of the lower order," Sammy opined .