Rahul returns for the hosts, as visitors ponder over lack of contributions from top seven
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.
India WLLLL (Last five completed ODIs; most recent first)
West Indies LLLWL
In the spotlight
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
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