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West Indies vs India ODI series: Tourists look to prove strength in depth against deflated hosts
India’s tour of the Caribbean begins with three one-day internationals against a West Indies side searching for answers. Watch all the action exclusively live on BT Sport.
After notable wins in both legs of their white-ball series against England, India head to the Caribbean for three pivotal one-day internationals against the West Indies.
Amid an unrelenting and arguably unsustainable schedule, one that prompted England Test captain Ben Stokes to sensationally retire from ODI cricket this week, India have opted to rest some of their more established stars for the series in Trinidad, which is followed by five Twenty20s.
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Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah have all been rotated, while India’s answer to the Virat Kohli conundrum is to leave their former captain at home.
The out-of-form Kohli is enduring a wretched run of form with the bat, extending back to November 2019 when he made his last century against Bangladesh in Kolkata.
He managed only 76 runs from six innings across all formats in England and appears to have developed a discernible weakness outside his off stump.
The statistics show just how far his form has tailed off. Between 2017 and 2019, he was averaging 79.19 with the bat in ODI cricket. Since 2020, he is averaging 36.75.
India have flexed their enviable strength in the depth for the upcoming series, with several talented players afforded an invaluable opportunity to impress 15 months out from a home World Cup.
Highly talented opener Shubman Gill makes his long-awaited ODI comeback, while Sanju Samson also returns after a long layoff.
Stand-in captain Shikhar Dhawan will lead the squad which includes Suryakumar Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur.
India supporters will also get the chance to see rising stars Ruturaj Gaikwad, Avesh Khan and Deepak Hooda, all of whom have forced their way into the set-up after impressing in the IPL.
Gaikwad, who scored the most runs for 2021 champions Chennai Super Kings in this year’s tournament, is in contention to open alongside Dhawan with Gill and Ishan Kishan.
Yadav is likely to feature in the middle-order after a sublime T20 hundred against England in Nottingham, with Shreyas Iyer also expected to play.
How to watch West Indies vs India
Thakur could line-up as the only seam-bowling allrounder alongside spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal. Siraj has demonstrated his effectiveness across all formats and could lead the attack in Port of Spain.
India have won five of their last six ODIs compared to the West Indies who are in the midst of a torrid run in the 50 over format.
They have won just four out of 15 games this year and are reeling from a humiliating 3-0 series defeat to Bangladesh. They are also currently on a six-game losing streak.
Pace bowlers Anderson Phillip and allrounder Romario Shepherd have paid the price for poor recent performances, with both dropped for the upcoming series.
Jason Holder is back after missing the Bangladesh series and Nicolas Pooran will lead the side, supported by vice-captain Shai Hope.
Speaking ahead of the series, West Indies chief selector Desmond Haynes said: “As we all know, Jason [Holder] is one of the leading all-round cricketers in the world and we’re happy to have him back in the team.
“He will be refreshed, re-energised and ready to go and we can expect to see his brilliance on the field as well as meaningful contributions off the field as well.
“We had a very challenging three matches against Bangladesh in Guyana so we will be looking to rebound when we face India in the conditions in Trinidad.
“We have seen some growth among some players, but overall, we need to regroup and play better against the Indians.”
West Indies failed to make an impact in the last World Cup in England in 2019, winning just two of their nine group games, and they have toiled in the format ever since.
They were stunned by Ireland on home soil earlier this year and convincingly beaten by India in Ahmedabad in February. A series victory over The Netherlands was their first since victory since Sri Lanka in 2020/21.
They have been blighted by poor batting displays in the format and were stymied by subcontinent-style pitches in the low-scoring Bangladesh series. “It doesn’t matter who we brought into the team, we will struggle on wickets like this,” said a frustrated Pooran.
The hosts will be hoping for more assistance from the surface against India and dependent on some of their fringe players to step up against the number-three ranked side.
Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie bowled economically against Bangladesh after impressing for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League.
“[Motie] has been tremendous in the entire series,” said Pooran. “It was his debut series in front of his home crowd. He was consistent, something that we have been asking of the spinners for a long time. I am just happy that he took his opportunity with both hands.”
20-year-old pace bowler Jayden Seales is also likely to feature, with Sint Maarten-born Keacy Carty, Player of the Match for West Indies Under-19’s World Cup winners in 2016, also in the squad.
The forthcoming series between two sides at different stages of their development promises to be a fascinating affair, with all the action exclusively live on BT Sport.
Watch the first ODI between the West Indies and India from 2.15pm on Friday 22 July on BT Sport 1.