At Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, West Indies and India will begin a three-game One-Day International series on Friday. The visitors are favorites to defeat the underperforming host team, even without its star players.
India has chosen to rest its usual skipper Rohit Sharma, leading batsman Virat Kohli, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, all-arounder Hardik Pandya, and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah after their 2-1 series victory in England.
This gives bright and motivated auxiliary players the chance to benefit from the absence of the stars at the cost of the squad, which was swept 3-0 by Bangladesh in Guyana the week before.
Both the Providence pitch quality against the Bangladeshis and the early start time, said to West Indies skipper Nicholas Pooran, combined to favor the side bowling first too much.
That conjecture ignores that the two-time World Cup champions have a long history of regularly doing poorly in the 50 overs-per-side formats.
The playing surface will likely be similar to the bowler-friendly circumstances in Guyana, given the erratic weather leading up to the series opener.
India has an abundance of resources, not least in the bowling department, where they have the talent and diversity to take advantage of the conditions and a weak West Indies batting lineup even with the quintet of elite players choosing to take a break.
Both wrist-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and pacer Mohammed Siraj are anticipated to lead the charge to apply pressure on their rivals, many of whom were judged to be temperamentally and technically unsuited to Bangladesh’s spin-dominated approach.
The return of Jason Holder is the only positive development for the home team in the days after the conclusion of the Bangladesh series.
The all-rounder and former skipper will be expected to lead with bat and ball after being rested for the series against the Netherlands, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
However, pressure is mounting on current captain Pooran to lead his side out of the rut they seem to have fallen into after their 2-0 series victories in tests and T20 Internationals against Bangladesh.
His highest ODI score of 73 last Saturday at the Guyana National Stadium stopped several subpar performances.
To go even close to recording the kind of totals that may genuinely test their opponents, the West Indies will need to put all of their resources into it, mainly opening batter Shai Hope.
Due to the absence of some prominent players for India, players like all-rounder Deepak Hooda and batters Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, and Suryakumar Yadav are anticipated to take the spotlight.
Incentives to perform are many, with the next T20 World Cup campaign only a few months away in Australia and India’s hosting the following 50-over World Cup in 2023.
The sides will swap formats but remain in Trinidad for the first T20 International at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba after the three ODIs are completed at Queen’s Park Oval.
The five-match series will end in the United States with two matches at Lauderhill in Florida before moving on to St. Kitts for two games.