After the firework-laden conclusion to the T20Is, it’s time to turn our attention to 50-over format, with India hoping to carry the momentum of their tournament-clinching win in Mumbai over to the three-match one-day international series.
The Men in Blue seemed to be in a spot of bother with regards to their approach to the shortest format of the game after their eight-wicket hammering at the hands of Kieron Pollard and Co at Thiruvananthapuram.
However, the trio of KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli along with the seam duo of Deepak Chahar and Mohammed Shami responded in style in Mumbai to help the home team steamroll the visitors by 67 runs.
Rahul had perhaps gained the most from the demolition job of the Windies attack in the financial capital, smashing 91 runs from 56 balls, repaying the team management for their faith in him. Rahul had been in splendid form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and had exhibited his full armoury of shots against the Men in Maroon to rack up two half-centuries in three games in the T20I series.
Shikhar Dhawan has not quite had the best of runs since his journey in the 2019 World Cup was cut short by a fractured thumb, with a dodgy knee ruling him out of the upcoming one-dayers — Mayank Agarwal promptly being added to the squad in his stead. However, there doesn't seem to be any room for changing India's opening combination of Rahul and Rohit given the kind of form they're in at the moment.
Kohli, the top run-getter in the T20Is, had pushed himself down the order to 4 at Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai, promoting Shivam Dube and Rishabh Pant respectively, but expect him to return to his favourite slot come the 50-over contests.
Shreyas Iyer, who didn't have much of a role to play in the shorter formats, is being backed to fill in at the No 4 spot, the debate over which had reached its peak around the World Cup, but appears to be steadily sliding in the Mumbai batsman's favour ever since.
The bowling and fielding departments weren't quite up to the mark in the bygone series barring the series decider, in which the duo of Chahar and Shami bowled impressive spells and were able to withstand Kieron Pollards' spirited charge.
The pair is expected to start off with the new balls from either ends at the Chepauk this Sunday, and continue in those roles over the course of the week, unless a drastic dip in form calls for an alternate decision. But a question mark hangs over the inclusion of a third seamer in Shardul Thakur — a last minute replacement for the Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was ruled out on Saturday due to a groin injury.
Given the spin-friendliness of Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium and Cuttack's Barabati Stadium, the Indian think tank might just go with the tried-and-tested pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, aka the 'KulCha' combo, along with an all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja or Kedar Jadhav.
West Indies certainly have had more match practice in the 50-over format than their Indian counterparts, who haven't played an ODI in four months. They had swept the three-match one-day series against Afghanistan in November, which marked a successful start to Pollard's leadership of the team.
However, the Men in Maroon were dealt with a massive blow in the form of the knee injury to Evin Lewis in Mumbai, with the explosive opener's participation in the series opener at Chennai looking bleak in the build up, meaning wicket-keeper batsman Shai Hope might have to partner up with Brandon King, who will hope to make better use of the opportunity after a forgetful outing on Wednesday evening.
Sheldon Cottrell — who has continued to entertain crowds with his signature 'salute' celebration — and Keemo Paul will be joined by Alzarri Joseph in the pace-bowling department. Hayden Walsh Jr was impressive in Thiruvananthapuram, where he played a key role in his team's victory with an economical spell, and looks likely to be tested on spin friendly surfaces alongside all-rounder Roston Chase, who will hope to shore up the lower middle order.
All of the above pointers however, will amount to nothing if weather plays spoilsport in the end. Especially in Chennai, where rains have forced the pitch to remain under covers in the build-up.
India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(w), Kedar Jadhav, Shivam Dube, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal, Shardul Thakur
West Indies: Shai Hope(w), Sunil Ambris, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard (c), Romario Shepherd, Keemo Paul, Hayden Walsh, Khary Pierre, Alzarri Joseph, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Sheldon Cottrell, Brandon King.
1st ODI: 15 December at Chennai (1.30 pm IST start)
2nd ODI: 18th December at Visakhapatnam (1.30 pm IST start)
3rd ODI: 22nd December at Cuttack (1.30 pm IST start).
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