Cricket

IND vs WI first ODI | India starts as the overwhelming favourite

Rohit Sharma at practise session at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai, on Friday.

Rohit Sharma at practise session at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: M. PRABHU

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West Indies in a rebuilding mode in the one-day format

In a city known for its heat and humidity, the last two days have been a bit of an anomaly with gloomy weather and intermittent showers welcoming India and West Indies ahead of the first One-Day International to be played at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday. 

While the teams wouldn’t mind the pleasant weather, it has not exactly helped in terms of preparations with India’s optional practice session being cancelled on Saturday.

However, it shouldn’t matter much for the home team as it will start the overwhelming favourite despite not playing a ODI in the last four months. Add to that, India’s record against West Indies in recent times has been impressive, winning the last nine bilateral ODI series between the two sides. 

West Indies’ last triumph over India in a bilateral ODI series came 13 years ago — a 4-1 triumph in 2006 in the Carribean.

Potent force

Despite the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, India’s top-order of Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul and Virat Kohli continues to be a potent force, especially with Rahul finding form in the recent T20Is with three half-centuries from four outings.

Indian player Ravindra Jadeja during a practice session ahead of the first One Day International (ODI) cricket match against West Indies at MAC Stadium in Chennai, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

Indian player Ravindra Jadeja during a practice session ahead of the first One Day International (ODI) cricket match against West Indies at MAC Stadium in Chennai, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

While India’s top-order is one of the best in the world, the same can’t be said of the middle-order and that is something the team would want to tackle in this series. It has been a cause of worry for the second-ranked side in the world for a while and it proved to be costly in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.

Over the last few years, the team management has tried different players in the middle order, from Manish Pandey and Ambati Rayudu to Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar without satisfactory results. 

An opportunity

This series provides an opportunity for the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Shivam Dube, who could make his ODI debut on Sunday, to show what they can do. Shreyas was impressive in his last two ODI appearances in the West Indies with two half-centuries and has had some valuable knocks in the T20s as well.

But all eyes will be on Rishabh Pant, who has been under fire in recent times and it will be a crucial series for the wicketkeeper-batsman. One good thing going for him, though, is the faith the captain and the team management have shown in him as they see the 22-year-old as someone with the ‘X’ factor who could become a genuine match-winner for the side. 

The West Indies, on the other hand, is a side in rebuilding mode in the one-day format with five new players here, who were not part of the T20 squad.

More than just flamboyance

The outcome of the match will be based on how the team tackles the middle overs with both bat and ball as it demands a certain level of patience, temperament and an ability to grind through, than just flamboyance. 

A lot will depend on players like Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran with the bat while with the ball, the onus is on spinners like Hayden Walsh Jr. and Khary Pierre. 

Another key player will be all-rounder Roston Chase, who was the player-of-the-series for his all-round exploits in the 3-0 triumph over Afghanistan.

It was the West Indies’ first ODI series victory in five years and Kieron Pollard’s men seem determined to start a new chapter in this format as evident from the hard yards the team put on Saturday despite the rain. 

Sunday will be the first chance to find where the team stands in the pecking order against one of the best in the world.

IND vs WI first ODI | India starts as the overwhelming favourite
 

The squads: 

India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, K.L. Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur.

West Indies: Kieron Pollard (Capt.), Sunil Ambris, Shai Hope, Khary Pierre, Roston Chase, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Romario Shepherd, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul and Hayden Walsh Jr.

Umpires (on-field): Shaun George, Nitin Menon; Third umpire: Rod Tucker; Fourth umpire: Anil Choudhary; Match referee: David Boon.

Match starts at 1.30 p.m. IST

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:15:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-against-west-indies-first-odi-preview/article30305085.ece

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