India set out to make tangible gains

Match details

Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati
October 21, Sunday; 13:30 IST
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

India ‘gained’ two major positives from the Test series against the West Indies: Prithvi Shaw’s belligerent batting at the top of the order and the promise he showed was one big positive; Umesh Yadav reminding his doubters of what he’s capable of by picking 10/133 in the second Test was another major positive to come out of a series that, realistically, was not expected to do India much good in the long run. India probably didn’t enter the Test series expecting much from it anyway, except wanting the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul to get some runs under their belt for their own confidence.

On the flipside, the ODI series starting Sunday carries great significance for India. For, the 2019 World Cup is less than seven months away and India only have 13 ODIs left (five against the West Indies, three against Australia and five against New Zealand), excluding the World Cup warm-ups, before their World Cup campaign.

India’s primary aim will be to address the middle order, an area which has been troubling them for long. Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, and Manish Pandey, four batsmen who have been named in the squad for first two ODIs against the West Indies, are likely to get chances to prove their suitability for the No. 4 and No. 6 positions, in particular.

Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli make India a formidable batting line-up nonetheless, given the different attributes they bring to the table: score quick runs and that way, impact the match positively (in Dhawan’s case), be the anchor and play substantial innings (in Rohit’s case) and, in Kohli’s case, he’s the most reliable batsman regardless of the situation.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah remain rested, which offers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav (who has been named as the replacement for Shardul Thakur, who picked up a groin injury on his Test debut) a chance to boost their chances of making India’s World Cup squad as potentially the third and fourth seamers. Hardik Pandya’s absence has given Ravindra Jadeja another chance to potentially make himself a fixture in India’s ODI squad, having made his presence felt in the Asia Cup, also due to Pandya picking up a back injury.

The absence of Chris Gayle (who has opted out given his involvement in the Afghanistan Premier League) and Evin Lewis (who pulled out of the limited-overs squads due to personal reasons) is likely to be felt by the Windies, who, however, have a squad to challenge India. A lot will be expected of Shimron Hetmyer with the bat—he has scored close to 450 runs in ODIs this year—and Shai Hope, who showed his class during the Test series but didn’t play an innings of substance. The presence of Marlon Samuels in the top order and the likes of Rovman Powell and captain Jason Holder in the lower middle order, adds muscle to the Windies batting line-up.

The West Indies bowling attack—which boasts the likes of Kemar Roach, left-arm pacer Obed McCoy, Keemo Paul, off-spinner Ashley Nurse, among others—has a big challenge in their hands in conditions favourable for batting and where India are usually hard to stop.

Though India have quality in their ranks and are the more experienced team, the result of the ODI series may not be as straightforward as the Test series was, starting with the 1st ODI on Sunday.

Barsapara Stadium pitch report and weather forecast

Sunday’s ODI will be the first to be played at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, which has hosted only one international match before—a T20I between India and Australia last year. On that evening, the ball darted around under lights. The same can be expected on Sunday, though the possibility of dew and the lack of enough knowledge about the pitch might force the captain winning the toss to field first.

The weather forecast says Sunday will be sunny with a maximum temperature of 31 degrees Celsius.

India vs Windies 1st ODI playing XI

India’s XII: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Rishabh Pant, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Mohammed Shami, 12 Khaleel Ahmed

Windies playing 11: 1 Jason Holder (c), 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Shai Hope, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Sunil Ambris/Chandrapaul Hemraj, 8 Ashley Nurse, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Obed McCoy/Oshane Thomas, 11 Keemo Paul

Match prediction

West Indies’ chances of at least competing depend on how they bat, particularly through the middle overs, and whether their bowlers can tie the Indian batsmen down by being disciplined with their line and length. India, though, will start as a firm favourite.

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