In the last few months, the hectic schedule in international cricket has become a challenge for nations to put out their best teams in every bilateral series. The effect of this has been that teams are rotating their mainstays, especially with the Men’s T20 World Cup scheduled this year.
It means that India are without regular captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah for the three-match ODI series against the West Indies, starting from Friday at the Queen’s Park Oval.
The captaincy duties have now been handed over to opener Shikhar Dhawan, who will be the seventh captain to lead India this year when they take the field for the first ODI.
Despite missing so many prominent players, the Dhawan-led visitors start as favourites against a struggling West Indies side — which is a testament to India’s deep bench strength. It also presents opportunities for players like Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer and Deepak Hooda to showcase their temperament and skill-sets in ODI cricket.
Against a shaky West Indies batting line-up, India have a variety of options to choose from in their bowling attack. Ravindra Jadeja, serving as deputy to Dhawan in ODIs, is likely to team up with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in the spin department.
With Shardul Thakur likely to be seen as a pace all-rounder in Pandya’s absence, Prasidh Krishna and either of Mohammed Siraj or Avesh Khan could be the two pacers if Arshdeep Singh hasn’t fully recovered from the right abdominal strain.
For the West Indies, who recently lost the ODI series to Bangladesh 3-0 in Guyana, the return of premier all-rounder Jason Holder is a big boost after being rested from white-ball matches against the Netherlands, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Holder’s return should motivate current skipper, Nicholas Pooran, to lift the hosts out of their troubles in the ODI format, where the batting has been unable to bat out their full 50 overs and stitch crucial partnerships.
They would want for their opening batter Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Rovman Powell, Brandon King and Kyle Mayers to get a big score and post big totals if they are to challenge a formidable Indian side. With the ball, they will be relying on the spin of Gudakesh Motie and Akeal Hosein while Jayden Seales and Alzarri Joseph are the pace options.
West Indies: Nicholas Pooran (captain), Shai Hope (vice-captain), Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Keacy Carty, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Jayden Seales, Romario Shephard (reserve) and Hayden Walsh Jr (reserve)
India: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja (vice-captain), Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh.