West Indies will begin their limited-overs tour of India on Sunday at the Narendra Stadium in Ahmedabad. After the advent of the T20s, One Day Internationals have lost their charm, but the format remains important in preparations for the ICC World Cup to be held in 2023. India will look to get back to their winning ways after losing 3-0 to the Proteas earlier this month, and they will be looking to their skipper Rohit Sharma to lead the team from the front. West Indies will be entering the tournament with confidence on the back of a 3-2 victory over England in T20s back at home.
Here’s our preview of the first of three ODIs between India and West Indies:
India will enter a new era on Sunday as Rohit Sharma takes over the full captaincy of the team across both limited-overs formats. While Rohit has led the team on multiple occasions in the past, this series will be the real starting point of his captaincy journey. Virat Kohli’s removal from the captaincy role was mired in controversy. Nevertheless, he will be hungry to return to his sublime form of the past.
While the top-order has seen consistent performances, India’s middle-order has failed to spark against South Africa. Rishabh Pant was a superb spark in the second ODI, but he is still to master composure and build much-needed partnerships during the middle overs. India have experimented with a number of players in the No. 5 spot, but they are yet to find a consistent player to fill the spot.
Team India’s preparations for the ODI have been derailed by an unexpected outbreak of the Coronavirus among the squad, with as many as seven players out of the 18 testing positive yesterday. Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad and Navdeep Saini all tested positive, and the first training session scheduled earlier today has been cancelled. With vice-captain KL Rahul already missing the first ODI, the core of the Indian team is likely to miss the first fixture.
The BCCI has named Mayank Agarwal to the squad to keep an opener handy, while Rishabh Pant could be named the vice-captain, signalling the team’s long-term plans. The pitch is expected to be batting-friendly, and the Men in Blue will rely on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to build solid partnerships through their innings.
The 1st ODI could also see Yuzhvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in action, as Ravichandran Ashwin has been rested for the series. It could give the two dynamic spinners one more opportunity to establish their case for inclusion in the 2022 T20 World Cup squad. Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur are the two likely pacers, and India could opt for an extra spinner in Washington Sundar depending on the pitch.
West Indies have arrived in Ahmedabad with a familiar squad that recently triumphed over England in T20s, with captain Kieran Pollard and vice-captain Nicholas Pooran once again leading the Men in Maroon. Thanks to the Indian T20 League, Indian fans are familiar with most of the explosive cricketers from the Caribbean – the likes of Jason Holder, Darren Bravo and Kieran Pollard are as popular as Indian cricketers in the country.
But that stint in the Indian T20 League also makes West Indies a dangerous opposition, as most of the batsmen have by now mastered the art of playing spin on Indian tracks. Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell are in prime form, finishing the England T20I series as the tournament’s top scorers. Jason Holder continues to be the key wicket-taker for the Windies, with Akeal Hossein continuing to impress with each passing innings.
HEAD TO HEAD
India and West Indies have a long history of rivalry in One Day Internationals, clashing on 133 occasions in the past. Both teams stand on equal grounds, with India winning in 64 fixtures while the Windies are only slightly behind with 63 wins. The phenomenal record West Indies hold is partly thanks to their domination across the world in the 80s and the 90s, similar to India’s dominating streak across the world in recent years.
India won the last One Day International series contested by both teams in 2019 by a 2-1 margin at home. Shimron Hetmeyer and Shai Hope scored brilliant centuries in the first ODI to give West Indies a 1-0 lead in the series. But the trio of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli tore through the Windies bowling in the next two ODIs to win India the series.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The ODI in Ahmedabad is special as it is Team India’s 1000th ODI – the first-ever team to reach the milestone. India will be keen to win the fixture and celebrate the occasion. But the Men in Blue will miss the services of key personnel like Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer, which could be decisive on a batsmen-friendly pitch. With the first training session cancelled, the likelihood of the fixture being postponed is increasing.
India have a stellar record on home tracks that are friendly to both batsmen and spinners. Expect a high scoring encounter with India to come out on top and lead the series 1-0.
India Predicted XI: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Surya Kumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.
West Indies Predicted XI: Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Rovman Powell, Darren Bravo, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hossein, Alzarri Joseph, Romario Shepherd, Fabian Allen.
When: Sunday, 6 February 2022, 1:30 PM IST
Where: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad.
Where to Watch: All matches of the West Indies tour of India will be streamed on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.
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