Series in the balance after the washed out first ODI

Match facts

Date and time: June 25 (Sunday); 9:00 local, 13:00 GMT and 18:30 IST
Venue: Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad

The main picture

Already a low-key series, the Royal Stag Mega Cricket Cup has gotten off to the worst start with the first ODI being washed out after just 39.2 overs of action. West Indies were good with the ball, tying down the Indian batsman by bowling tight lines and lengths for the most part. And after Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan had gotten their team off to a solid start, the Windies bowling attack came back strongly, taking 3/67 before heavy rains kicked in.

Neither of these teams can claim to have an edge ahead of the second ODI, which is also to be played at the Queen’s Park Oval. The two sets of players will want to play a full match and provide some meaning to what is widely seen as an unmeaningful series shoehorned into the cricketing calendar. The Men in Blue are chasing the No. 2 spot in the ICC ODI rankings, to get where they now need to win the series 0-4. Also from India’s perspective, if they can take an unassailable lead in what is now essentially a four-ODI series, they will experiment with their playing combination and get the likes of Mohammed Shami and Rishabh Pant into the XI.

The first one-dayer had only a small number of people turning up at the venue, which wasn’t unexpected, and just adding up to the number of negatives about this series. With the second ODI being played on a Sunday, we can expect a bigger crowd to witness a potentially good contest. Mind you, this is the biggest venue in the Caribbean, capable of holding 25000 spectators.

The focus will once again be on the weather in Port of Spain, with the forecast telling us that a few showers can be expected around mid-day and the sky will remain cloudy for much of this Sunday.

West Indies vs India, second ODI playing XI

Both sides played quite well for the length (39.2 per cent) of Friday’s match and with almost every player involved doing a good job, the home and the visiting teams are unlikely to tinker too much with their playing XIs.

For the West Indies, Ashley Nurse bowled only four overs and did not bowl after the 18th over of the Indian innings. With Devendra Bishoo producing a good performance (1/39 in 10 overs) and the Indian top-order having three right-handers, the hosts might want to bring in Rovman Powell, the seam-bowling all-rounder. Otherwise, their bowling attack produced the goods on a slow Queen’s Park Oval pitch and the batsmen didn’t get a hit.

West Indies’ probable playing XI for the second ODI: 1. Jason Holder (c), 2. Evin Lewis, 3. Kieran Powell, 4. Roston Chase, 5. Shai Hope (wk), 6. Jonathan Carter, 7. Jason Mohammed, 8. Miguel Cummins, 9. Alzarri Joseph, 10. Ashley Nurse/Rovman Powell, and 11. Devendra Bishoo

For India, the form of Yuvraj Singh will surely be a worry. The stylish left-hander hasn’t looked secure at the crease in any of his four innings—his scores have been 7, 23*, 22, and 4—after his 32-ball 53 in India’s Champions Trophy 2017 Group B clash against Pakistan. And time is running out for the Punjab batsman and the team management, who will be aware that the middle order isn’t good enough to face high-quality bowling attacks. Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant are part of the squad and more than capable of batting at Yuvraj’s No. 4 position.

I was surprised with Yuvraj being picked in the playing XI for the first ODI, and I believe that Karthik or Pant should be brought into the line-up for tomorrow’s one-dayer. Other than this possible personnel change, India’s playing XI is unlikely to be tinkered with.

India’s playing XI: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Ajinkya Rahane, 3. Shikhar Dhawan, 4. Yuvraj Singh/Dinesh Karthik/Rishabh Pant, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Kuldeep Yadav, 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10. Umesh Yadav, and 11. Ravichandran Ashwin

Both teams are unchanged from the previous match. Ashley Nurse and Yuvraj Singh keep their places.

Prediction

India are, without a doubt, the stronger team on paper. But West Indies exploited the slow nature of the Trinidad pitch well. Run scoring became difficult once the balls became old and had softened up, nonetheless, the bowling was so good that the Indian batsmen scored only at five runs per over. Jason Holder and co. will, by now at least, know that if they can pick a couple of early wickets, they will cause significant problems for this Indian side. The Trinidad pitch will only be slower than how it played on Friday and for this reason, Holder might opt to bat first if he wins his second consecutive toss. Virat Kohli too, despite being a fan of chasing down totals, probably will favour batting first as well.

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