June 23, 2017
Start time 0900 local (1300 GMT)
Take out India’s 20-7 win-loss record since the start of their home season last year, and you have a team on very shaky ground. Misunderstandings between captain and coach which led to the coach quitting even as the squad was mid-flight to the Caribbean, a thumping in a very high-profile global final just last weekend, and two middle-order superstars on the wane.
West Indies, in the past few years, have seen coaches sacked and players banned. Successes have been scarce – they have won two of nine ODIs this year, and slumped to ninth on the ICC ODI rankings. Both teams’ mindset off the field must be rather similar. Except, they aren’t.
The negative forces currently surrounding India are strong enough to destabilise any team, but winning is the most impactful nullifying factor in sports. Despite their issues, in terms of personnel, skills, confidence and form, India have the edge, no doubt. They just made the final of the Champions Trophy; West Indies did not qualify for the Champions Trophy, and while it was in progress they lost an ODI to Afghanistan at home.
In the five-match series against West Indies, India’s biggest stumbling block could be the slow nature of the Caribbean pitches. Apart from the occasional turner, India have played their ODI cricket on predominantly high run-scoring surfaces. They last played an ODI in the West Indies four years ago. Here, hitting through the ball or swinging across the line may not be viable options. Instead, opening the face of the bat late and nudging accurate bowling into gaps could be the best alternatives. How effectively will India adapt?
West Indies have honed their ODI cricket on such surfaces in the recent past. The lower the scores, the higher are West Indies’ chances. A series win against India is a must as they aim to climb the rankings and get direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
West Indies WLLLW (completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Spinning allrounders may be the most productive asset on low, slow pitches. West Indies picked Roston Chase for the series against Afghanistan, albeit on Test form. He didn’t quite deliver, but still has the best resume for the job. A quick, flat and accurate modus operandi with the ball is well supplemented by his boundary-hitting ability.
Virat Kohli will be pleased to get back on the field, given the distractions off it. Fingers have been pointed and focus was temporarily shifted away from the game. All eyes will be on how Kohli leads his team in the wake of the biggest controversy of his captaincy tenure. He is also India’s best and most capable batsman in challenging conditions. A determined Kohli is not what West Indies will want to come up against.
With Shannon Gabriel unavailable due to injury, West Indies named an unchanged 13-man squad for the first two ODIs. Fast bowler Kesrick Williams and legspinner Devendra Bishoo may miss out.
West Indies (probable): 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Jonathan Carter, 5 Jason Mohammed, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Jason Holder (capt), 9 Ashley Nurse, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Miguel Cummins
Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah are the two exclusions from India’s squad from the Champions Trophy. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav were picked in their place, but they may not make the XI initially. Ajinkya Rahane is likely to take Rohit’s opening spot, and Umesh Yadav could be brought in for Bumrah.
India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Umesh Yadav
Pitch and conditions
In the three T20s played between West Indies and Pakistan at the Queen’s Park Oval – the venue for the first two ODIs – earlier this year, the highest score was 138 for 3 in a successful chase. Run-making is unlikely to get any easier, which could mean both teams’ batsmen face a trial of slow bowling. There is no rain forecast.
Stats and trivia
- The previous ODI played at Queen’s Park Oval was between India and Sri Lanka in 2013
- India have lost three of their last four away ODIs against West Indies
“We see [Rahane] more powerful at the opening slot and that’s where he can play his game the best, so during the course of all these five games, Ajinkya will definitely open with Shikhar.” Virat Kohli