After four months and one day, Team India will finally a One-day International when they lock horns with the West Indies in a three-match series, starting December 15 in Chennai. Ironically, the last time Team India played an ODI series, it was also against the Men from the Caribbean, which they won 0-3.
In fact, India hasn’t lost an ODI series to the West Indies since their 1-4 defeat in the Caribbean in 2006, and are unbeaten in the last seven International series against the Men in Maroon. But, as the recently concluded T20I series showed, you underestimate West Indies at your own peril. India, themselves, have quite a few injury issues to ponder on. So, who will make it to the playing XI? Will Kul-Cha play together? Will Iyer bat at No.4?
Here’s a look at India’s predicted XI for the first ODI:
Openers: Rohit Sharma & KL Rahul
It’s like a deja-vu of the 2019 World Cup when Shikhar Dhawan got injured midway through the tournament and KL Rahul had to open with Rohit Sharma for the remainder of the tournament.
But, unlike the World Cup where Rahul was still searching for his touch, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for the Karnataka batsmen, who is coming off a great domestic season [Vijay Hazare + Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy] and equally productive T20I exploits against the West Indies. He’ll open alongside Rohit, who has had a great 2019 thus far where he has racked up a plethora of runs including five hundred in the 50-over World Cup last summer.
Middle-Order: Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer & Rishabh Pant (WK)
If West Indies thought they have had enough of Virat Kohli, then they are in for a rude shock. Kohli likes batting against the West Indies. Kohli likes batting against any opponent. But, there is something about the West Indies that spurs him on even more.
In the last nine ODIs since the start of 2018 against the West Indies, Kohli has racked up 759 runs in eight innings at an average of 151.80 and a strike-rate of 107.35 including five hundred and a half-century. What’s more, he has two hundred in each of his last two ODI innings against the men from the Caribbean, and, considering the form he is in currently, one wouldn’t be surprised if he adds a few more to his tally in the upcoming rubber.
In the last ODI series held in the Caribbean earlier this year, Shreyas Iyer showed what India has been looking for in their ideal No.4 batsman since 2016. His 65 off 41 balls when India was chasing 250-odd in the final ODI at Trinidad was an epitome of skills, calculated counter-attack, and fearless hitting, and the right-hander is expected to retain his spot in the upcoming series.
This series could well be the last chance for the under-fire and underperforming Rishabh Pant. The southpaw has been under immense scrutiny due to his poor form with both bat and gloves and will be hoping that he can turn around his fortunes for the good. He’ll bat at No.5.
All-rounders: Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube & Ravindra Jadeja
Kedar Jadhav last played an International for India back in August during the ODI series against the West Indies. With him not a part of India’s T20 plans and the next 50-over World Cup another three and a half years away, the all-rounder will have to make sure he makes use of his every opportunity that comes his way and the three-match series will once again a chance for him to prove his worth.
With Hardik Pandya not available, India will be banking on Shivam Dube to play the role of a seam-bowling all-rounder. As was evident in the T20I series, Dube’s bowling is his weaker suit, and Kohli will have to be smart in getting the ten overs out from both him and Jadhav- both of whom will form as a fifth bowling option.
Indian bowling coach Bharat Arun asserted in the pre-match conference that the duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be used in tandem, only when the conditions are conducive. He also said that Jadeja- courtsey his all-round play- gives a potent balance to the playing XI. That means only one of Kuldeep and Chahal will feature in the One-day series with Ravindra Jadeja serving as a spin-bowling all-rounder.
Bowlers: Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami & Deepak Chahar
With only one wrist-spinner set to play, according to the team-management, of-course, Yuzvendra Chahal could get a nod ahead of his partner-in-crime- Kuldeep- as has generally been the case in the past. Both Kuldeep and Chahal played one-match each when India toured the Caribbean earlier this year.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury puts addition onus on Mohammed Shami to lead the bowling attack alongside Deepak Chahar. Shami claimed four wickets in the two matches he played in the West Indies and was also India’s wrecker-in-chief when these two sides played in the World Cup. He, along with Deepak Chahar, who once again has the great chance to stake his claim in ODI set-up, will spearhead the fast bowling unit.
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