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Match Preview – India vs West Indies, West Indies in India 2021/22, 2nd ODI


Preview

Rahul returns for the hosts, as visitors ponder over lack of contributions from top seven

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Since the start of 2019, both India and West Indies have played 47 ODIs, more than any other side. But the results have been vastly divergent, with India winning 27 and losing 19, and West Indies almost doing the opposite in winning 18 and losing 26. That difference was on display in the first ODI, which India won rather handily despite a brief middle-order stutter.

Batting has been a problem for West Indies. The inadequacy of their total of 176 on Sunday was shown up by India chasing it down in just 28 overs despite losing four wickets and having a debutant in Deepak Hooda coming in at 116 for 4. The hosts were at less than full-strength even among the squad picked for the ODIs, missing the Covid-19-isolated Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Navdeep Saini, along with KL Rahul who was on personal leave. Mayank Agarwal, who had been added to the squad, was in quarantine as a late addition and thus also not available. From those six, only Gaikwad continues to be in isolation, with the other five available for training, giving India an even stronger look.

For West Indies, they need to find a way for the top order to contribute substantial runs. While they have a lot of all-round options, the innings needs to be set up by those at the top so that the allrounders can come in and play more freely. Since 2019, their top seven has averaged only 34.33 against all Full Member sides except Zimbabwe and Ireland, with India averaging a much-better 44.15. West Indies’ lack of runs have not been a trade-off with quicker scoring either, with their strike rate seventh best – the same as their average – among those teams.

Form guide

India WLLLL (Last five completed ODIs; most recent first)
West Indies LLLWL

In the spotlight

Virat Kohli‘s innings in the first ODI was un-Kohli like in the extreme. The first ball was edged for four, while the second was upper-cut with the same result – although not perfectly timed. There was respite with a wide, before he had to duck under a bouncer. Another short ball had him pulling, but with little control, only to be caught at fine leg. It was uncharacteristic from the modern master of the one-day game, almost as if he was in a rush to assert his dominance.
While tongues will wag about Kohli’s lack of centuries lately, his numbers since his last ODI hundred in August 2019 would be excellent for almost any batter: an average of over 40 at a strike rate of over 90, and passing fifty ten times in 19 visits to the crease. If at all those figures seem underwhelming, it is only when compared to the ridiculously high standards Kohli has set over the course of his career.
Jason Holder has been West Indies’ go to batter in Test cricket often enough. Now he is apparently having to do that in ODIs too. Batting at No.7 or lower, he has had to walk out inside the 25-over mark 19 times since the 2015 World Cup. And in those trying situations, Holder has averaged 35.25 at a strike rate of 88. All this has made the case for a promotion up the batting order only stronger every time. Captain Kieron Pollard acknowledged Holder’s contribution, but held that the top order had pedigreed batters already. How long that continues if the runs don’t come remains to be seen.

Team news

Rahul and Agarwal both trained with the Indian team, and are available. Dhawan and Iyer had a light session, supervised by the medical team. Although they are now free of Covid-19, the team management might want to give them a few more days before throwing them into the hurly-burly of a 50-overs game. Rahul should slot back into the team immediately, although whose spot he takes could be tricky. Suryakumar Yadav is a dynamic option in the middle order, while Hooda is the only top-six batter who can bowl regularly. Both men also shared a composed stand to take India to victory in the last game. That might leave Ishan Kishan as the one to miss out, which would mean Rahul partners Rohit Sharma at the top.

The bowlers did an excellent job, and there is no reason to change the attack. That is harsh on Deepak Chahar perhaps, but if the team management feels he is not among the first three picks as a pace option in Ahmedabad, he will have to continue to bide his time.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Mohammed Siraj, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Prasidh Krishna

Yuzvendra Chahal’s Player-of-the-Match returns might tempt West Indies into giving Hayden Walsh Jr some game time, but it is difficult to see who he would replace. Their spinners in the last game were Akeal Hosein and Fabian Allen, both picked for all-round abilities. Kemar Roach was brought back into the ODI team, and they will want to give him a run because they clearly saw value in what he brings to the side. Alzarri Joseph has been among West Indies’ best bowlers in one-dayers, and it was he who gave them a brief window of opportunity with the wickets of Rohit and Kohli in the same over in the first ODI.

West Indies: (probable) 1 Shai Hope (wk), 2 Brandon King, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Shamarh Brooks, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Fabian Allen, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Kemar Roach

Pitch and conditions

With summer beginning to set in, dew didn’t play a major role in the first match. A few clouds and a clear day are expected in Ahmedabad. The pitches have had something for spinners, although they have tilted more towards batters.

Stats and trivia

  • In the 19 matches since his last ODI century, Kohli averages 40.68. That is higher than everyone in the current West Indies squad save Shai Hope. Apart from him, only Evin Lewis among West Indies batters has had a higher average than Kohli in this period.
  • Chahal went past 100 wickets in the first ODI. His average of 27.27 is the best for an Indian spinner with more than 100 ODI wickets, and third best overall – behind Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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