West Indies v India: First ODI Preview


The West Indies and India will kick off their five-match series at the Queen's Park Oval this Friday. 

The Windies head into this five-match series on the back of a disappointing one-all draw with Afghanistan, while the Indians need to pick themselves up after falling flat against Pakistan in the recent Champions Trophy final.

This will almost certainly be the islanders' most testing series of the season, despite the rather under-strength nature of the opposition, who have rested a couple of stars.

West Indies v India | Friday, 23 June 2017 | Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad | 15:30

To Win Match - * Forecast odds. Final odds to be updated once match is priced up. 
West Indies 7/4 | Tie 35/1 | India 46/100 

West Indies
Unable to qualify for the recent Champions Trophy and now in the awkward position of having to jostle with smaller cricketing nations for a berth in the 2019 World Cup, the men in maroon have plenty to negotiate over the next couple of months. Exactly how they will do so, with a very inexperienced squad, is of particular intrigue.

Their current personnel, who failed to genuinely impress against Afghanistan, are unchanged for the first two ODIs. The 13-man collective share a mere 211 ODIs of experience - and have a severe lack of batting staying power. All-rounder Roston Chase has gone from last year's veritable outsider to 2017's integral player - and plenty of responsibility rests with him.

The hosts will be without fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who has been sidelined by injury, leaving the likes of Miguel Cummins and Alzarri Joseph to step up in his absence. India were largely flummoxed by Pakistan's pacers in London - and Cummins and Joseph will do well to employ similar tactics to those displayed by Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali last week.

The Windies, regardless of inexperience and a general lack of recent success, are always solid short-format contenders, as twin World Twenty20 titles attest. All of 30 overs per innings extra, against a slew of superstars, however, might prove a bridge too far for the spirited bunch. They, in fact, have only beaten India once at home in the last six years.

While the West Indies' overall ODI record against this month's opposition makes for fruitful reading, on the back of 60 victories in 116 attempts, one must remember almost 30 of those came before the 1990s, when the islanders took a significant downturn - and India's upward surge has since largely become the norm.

Captain Virat Kohli insisted India left London with their heads held high, despite their collective inadequacies in the final. They will still be smarting from that heavy defeat to their arch rivals, though, and nothing less than dominance in Friday's series opener will soften Sunday's sting.

The Indians have a propensity for winning the opening match or two of a five-fixture affair, but then tend to take their foot off the proverbial gas. This could be the 'in' the Windies need, but an opposition unit sans the services of fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and batsman Rohit Sharma won't be depleted pushovers.

Sharma has been rested amid recovery from hip surgery, while Bumrah will probably be introduced to Test match cricket against Sri Lanka later this year - and requires a breather before that. Opportunity, then, knocks for the uncapped Rishabh Pant to effectively replace Rohit - and graduate to the next level after a superb 2017 Indian Premier League campaign.

Another fine exponent of the IPL, wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav will be a welcome addition to an XI willing to sacrifice a seamer for an additional slow bowler. While the Queen's Park Oval is not a veritable dust bowl, it can prove dry and sluggish - conditions suited to Yadav and the seasoned Ravichandran Ashwin.

With coach Anil Kumble this suddenly calling it quits on Tuesday in the wake of an untenable working relationship with Kohli, India will have a new man in charge in the Caribbean. While it not be a full-time appointment, it needs to be a solid stop gap ahead of the hiring of one of former India opener Virender Sehwag, ex-Australia all-rounder Tom Moody, erstwhile Pakistan coach Richard Pybus or yesteryear India medium-pacer Dodda Ganesh.

Verdict: West Indies
Asked to travel a substantial distance, acclimatise and prepare less than a week after suffering an emotionally taxing defeat in a major International Cricket Council tournament will prove all too much for India.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for @Hollywoodbets.net

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