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After the one-sided battering of the West Indies in test cricket, it is time to don some colored clothing and hope for a better contest. India and West Indies will play 5 ODI series, a number arrived to no doubt keeping the ICC World Cup 2019 in mind. Both sides will want to make progress towards finding their best side even as they try and manage the workload of their players.
It’s a fine balancing act to ensure that the players don’t start to feel insecure by the constant chopping and changing while still auditioning enough players with enough chances to be truly able to make an impact.
India will be hoping that its middle order muddle is closer to being solved while the West Indies has brought over some fine young performers from the CPL. This match and the entire ODI series should make for a much better contest than the Tests did.
The biggest news for India is that Virat Kohli is back and will be leading the side once more after missing the Asia Cup. That also means that the number three position in the batting order is now filled and the middle order contenders will have one less space to fight for.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli are India’s top-3 heading into the World Cup 2019 and there is not a top-order in the world that is more impressive. These three players are legends of the ODI game and if any two out of them have a decent game, sometimes even one, then India is more than likely to win the match.
The biggest challenge for the West Indies is going to be getting past three players.
Flat pitches, good form, and a hunger for runs mean that it is quite likely all three players are going to have another good series. We would back every one of them to score a century in each game because if it pays off a couple of time also then it would have been worth it.
The most intriguing part of this Indian team is going to be the middle order, though. We think Ambati Rayadu has done enough to make the number 4 slot his own. He averages over 50 in ODI cricket and continues to score runs every time he has been given an opportunity.
His struggles with the yo-yo test are also behind him so expect him to get a longer run as well.
Now for 5, 6, and 7.
M.S. Dhoni should keep the number 5 slot since that has been where he has been batting. His ability to hit sixes may be dwindling but his experience and strike rotation make him a more than useful ODI player.
In the absence of Kedar Jadhav at 6, will Manish Pandey finally get a go? Or will the team look at Rishab Pant as the attacking option? We think both players will find some time in the middle sooner or later but that Pandey will get first preference.
Number 7 is Hardik Pandya’s place, we think there is no doubt about that but as of now, the management must ask if Jadeja fits in there. Both in terms of batting and bowling ability. We believe there is a place for Jadeja in the side as a second spinner/ all-rounder who can add balance to the side.
Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Khaleel, and Kuldeep Yadav round out the playing eleven. India could decide to play Chahal instead of Jadeja or one of the pacers but that could affect the balance of the side.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, V Kohli, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, RR Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Khaleel Ahmed, YS Chahal.
The West Indies has had a terrible time in ODI cricket over the last few years as it has struggled to get its best players on the par. The team had to play a qualification series, which it very nearly messed up, and ended up just scraping through.
Over the last few months, though, there has been some good news trickling in and we are cautiously optimistic about the future of West Indian ODI cricket.
For one thing, the bigger players have started making a comeback. Chris Gayle, not playing this series, is very much in the mix of the ODI’s and some of the big T20 freelance stars like Andre Russell have expressed their desire to build up the World Cup as well.
The second, and more important, factor is the emergence of some talented youngsters in this year’s CPL who have been fast-tracked into the ODI side. We are talking about the likes of Oshane Thomas (a genuine quick bowler), Obed McCoy (Left arm pacer with excellent variations), and Fabien Allen ( a dangerous middle order hitter).
Rovman Powell is also a much better cricketer than he was a few years ago and we think he could be a vital player for the West Indies in this series in the absence of Andre Russell.
Kieron Powell has been brought into the team to replace Evin Lewis, who pulled out at the last minute. Powell looked good in the test matches for a short duration of time and it will be interesting to see how he fares in the ODI considering his poor record.
His role is going to be very crucial because the West Indies does not have too many batsmen that can actually play for the duration of a fifty over inning.
Kieron Powell, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, and Marlon Samuels are going to be the heart of the West Indian batting side. Samuels has always had a lot of success in India against India but whether he can produce the goods once more is highly debatable.
The middle order of Rovman Powell, Jason holder, and Fabien Allen should help add a lot of balance and power to the side as well.
This leaves picking the bowlers and we expect to see Oshane Thomas, Obed McCoy, Kemar Roach, and Ashley Nurse make the cut. Devendra Bishoo will also be under serious consideration if the wicket looks a little tacky.
This is definitely not the worst West Indies ODI team we have seen in recent times and we are really hoping to see them put up a good show.
Kieran Powell, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, MN Samuels, Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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A clear day with a minimal threat of rain has been forecast for match day. The pitch in Guwahati is flat and excellent for batting. The wrist spinners will always get a little purchase off the surface but the fast bowlers may end up becoming cannon fodder.
A score of 300 will be seen as par, particularly if India bats first.
The last two decades of cricket between India and West Indies have been hopelessly one-sided. India is the definite favorite heading into this match as well. The West Indies, though, has nothing to lose and everything to gain. A good, competitive start from the West Indies will bring this series alive.
Up until that happens, though, we have no choice but to back India heavily even though there is very little betting opportunity there.
Back India to win.