By Kshvid Sports News Desk.
It hasn’t even been a week since India’s men’s ODI team took the field, with their last game coming in the 3rd ODI against England on 17th July. There has been a lot of talk about the intensity of the international cricket calendar in the aftermath of Ben Stokes’ sudden retirement from ODI cricket.
England had a single-day break between the 3rd ODI against India and the ODI series-opener against the South Africans. Following this trend, the Indian ODI team will once again be in action less than a week after their series victory against England to compete against the West Indies in a 3-match ODI series. West Indies’ last game was against Bangladesh at home on the 16th of July.
The 3-match series also isn’t part of the ODI Super League in which the West Indies and India sit in 6th and 7th respectively, although the West Indies have played 9 more games than India. So what is even the point of this series?
With back-to-back T20 World Cups over the last two years, ODI cricket has been kept on the back-burner a bit. The World Cup is just over a year ahead and as far as India is concerned, they would like to iron out some holes in the squad.
India have rested most of their all-format players in Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami. KL Rahul, who has been out of the team since the IPL, is still recovering from a hernia surgery and will also miss the series. Keeping the T20 World Cup later this year in mind, the selectors have picked Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant for the T20I leg, while Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah will miss the entire series.
Shikhar Dhawan will lead the side in Rohit Sharma’s absence and will become the 7th different captain for India this year across formats, an international record. Despite most first-team players being rested, coach Rahul Dravid will have plenty of options to choose from as even India’s second-string team is looking quite formidable.
But plenty of options mean there will be quite a few selection headaches for the new skipper. The problems start right at the top. India have three designated openers in Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill in the squad. Ishan Kishan will likely be given the nod but the other two might feature at some point in the series.
With Virat Kohli rested, Deepak Hooda might get a go at his favoured No.3 spot. Surya Kumar Yadav had an indifferent ODI series against England but will be promoted to No.4, with Shreyas Iyer following him. With India having a gap at No.6, they could try an opener at No.3 and every batter moves a spot down.
Ravindra Jadeja is set to miss out on the first ODI and is in doubt for the entire series, which comes as a huge blow to India. Axar Patel might get a chance in his absence. India have a conundrum at No.8 as they can go in with a frontline bowler or pick Shardul Thakur to beef up the batting. Two of Avesh Khan, Prasigh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh will get a chance with Chahal as the lone spinner.
India come into the game on the back of a terrific series win against World Champions England and will be full of confidence. They haven’t lost to the West Indies in an ODI series since 2006.
Meanwhile, West Indies have had a tumultuous time in the 50-over format, winning 2 out of the last 12 bilateral series at home. They were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Bangladesh in their last ODI assignment, although the turning tracks have helped the Asian side’s cause.
West Indies’ scores in those three games read 149, 108 and 178, with the Caribbean side never batting out their quota of 50 overs. But the coach Phil Simmons came out defending his batsmen, who couldn’t score a single hundred in the series.
“The main thing is how we bat our 50 overs…we have to bat 50 overs and put our innings together and partnerships together,” Simmons said two days out of the ODI series opener against India in Port-of-Spain. “Somebody has to be looking to score a hundred and hold the team together. Batting-wise, that is it.”
Jason Holder’s return will come as a huge boost to the ODI side as the all-rounder brings a much-needed balance and calmness to the side. Keemo Paul looks set to miss out after suffering a hamstring injury in the 3rd ODI against Bangladesh.
The West Indies coach also criticized the sub-standard wickets for their series against Bangladesh and hopes there will be a good batting wicket against India.
“I’m not hiding the fact that they were bad cricket wickets on the whole, but I expect different here. The wicket has looked good and yes it [India] is a stronger bowling team but we expect a better batting performance.”
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