The second-string Indian team is set to lock horns with West Indies in their backyard as the first ODI of the three-match series begins on Friday. The visitors have rested a string of their top players, including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Jasprit Bumrah, and their absence gives West Indies a chance to clinch an ODI series against India after a long time.
Since the regular captain, Rohit has been rested, Shikhar Dhawan is the designated captain for the series.
West Indies have played 39 ODIs against India at home and won 20 of them. But the record doesn’t depict the true picture. In the 1980s, when West Indies were the most dominant team in the world, they thrashed India at home relentlessly. Even in 1997, they had scooped an ODI series victory.
But the tables completely turned at the turn of the century when the fortunes of the West Indies began nosediving. To put things in perspective, India has won five consecutive ODI series against West Indies in their backyard. That’s a remarkable achievement and speaks as much about India’s dominance as about the woeful decline of the West Indies.
Even without some of the big players in the squad, India is still a pretty strong team as it is bursting with talented youngsters such as Ruturaj Gaikwad, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, and Suryakumar Yadav.
Gill is likely to open the batting with Dhawan and has a great chance to cement his place in the limited-overs team but Ruturaj might just pip him to the post. In that case, Gill will be accommodated in the middle order.
However, the no.3 position in the batting line-up is the most crucial one. Over the years, Virat Kohli performed brilliantly and consistently to own this position but his recent form has been scratchy. India is looking to find a prospective replacement for Virat for this position in the long term.
Since Virat isn’t playing this series, Iyer – who has been excellent in the ODIs in the last year – is likely to bat at no.3 for India. In the past, he has often expressed his desire to bat at this position in limited-overs cricket and the breezy batsman will pull out all his stops to prove himself worthy of this spot. It will be interesting to see whether Iyer or Gill will be chosen to bat in this important position.
Suryakumar and Sanju Samson will form the middle order for India.
In the last ODI series against West Indies, Prasidh Krishna had stepped up and bowled with perceptible zing. In the absence of Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, he and Mohammed Siraj will be the leaders of the pace-bowling attack. Yuzvendra Chahal is in terrific form and will lead the spin department.
Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, and Shardul Thakur will vie for the spot of the all-rounder. Since Thakur is doing exceedingly well in this format, he might get the nod.
Overall, this series is a great opportunity for some promising youngsters – who are at the periphery – to come good and fortify their place in the ODI team.
India Squad: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Sanju Samson (wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh