West Indies vs India 2019, 1st ODI: Predicted playing XI and key players for the hosts
To say that West Indies had a forgettable T20I series against India would be very kind to the hosts. They didn't really show up in any of the three T20Is; their bowling was decent but their batsmen lacked the application and resolve to put up competitive totals on the board.
Kieron Pollard scored 49 runs in the second T20I and a fifty in the last T20I, and was the only saving grace for the Windies in a format of the game that suits their style of play the best. Now after that 3-0 drubbing, they will be up against Virat Kohli's men in the ODI series starting in Guyana tomorrow.
It will be extremely hard to switch gears and put up a convincing performance against India at the same venue barely a couple of days after having lost the T20I series so badly. But the hosts have no option but to buckle up quickly, and fortunately for them they have the talent in their squad to compete.
The "Universe Boss" Chris Gayle was supposed to call it quits on his ODI career after the recently concluded World Cup, but the talisman had a change of heart and will continue to serve his country. He will be high on confidence as he has been in fine hitting form in the GT20 Canada.
John Campbell had a really rough time in the T20I series, where he was dropped from the playing XI for the reminder of the series after just one failure. But keeping in mind the fact that West Indies need solidity at the start of the innings, they are likely to go in with Campbell and not Evin Lewis to partner Gayle.
The middle-order would consist of extremely gifted and talented players like Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmeyer, Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen and their skipper Jason Holder. They never clicked as an unit in the World Cup; will they deliver against India?
All-rounders like Carlos Brathwaite and Keemo Paul would complement skipper Jason Holder to complete the lower middle-order and provide the much-required bowling depth their team needs.
West Indies will be boosted by the return of Kemar Roach into the mix. The extremely gifted fast bowler will be accompanied by Sheldon Cottrell and probably Oshane Thomas.
On the whole, the team doesn't look very different from the one that played in the World Cup. The inclusion of Roston Chase in the squad suggests that the Test match specialist might be considered for a role in the middle-order if things don't go as planned.
Probable Playing XI: Chris Gayle, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (c), Carlos Brathwaite, Keemo Paul, Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach.
Key Players for West Indies
Chris Gayle is undoubtedly the big ticket attraction in the Windies team. The ''Universe Boss" has a phenomenal record in ODIs - 10393 runs in 297 games at an average of 37.93 and strike rate of 87.17. He needs 13 more runs to become the all time highest run-getter for Windies in the ODI format.
Among the most prolific talents to come out of West Indies in recent times is Shai Hope. The wicket-keeping batsman has got the right technique to shine in ODIs.
Hope will be the glue that holds the Windies batting order together. He has amassed 2521 runs in 61 matches at a very formidable average of 47.57, and had many starts in the World Cup too, without converting them into bigger scores. Will we see a more responsible and resolute Hope in this ODI series?
Jason Holder, the West Indies skipper is equally good with both ball and bat. His calm and composed presence in the middle has been a big boost for the West Indies in recent times. The series against England recently saw a new dimension to his batting where he scored a fabulous 203.
Without the services of Andre Russell, Holder is West Indies' best option in the all-rounder department. He has scored 1744 runs in 102 games at an average of 26.02 and has taken 129 wickets too.
Holder will be crucial if West Indies hope to beat India or even compete against them. That said, it can't be stressed enough that he would need other players to step up as well.