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India vs West Indies 1st ODI Preview

Written by Rick John Henry for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

India vs West Indies | Wednesday 08 October | Kochi | 11:00

The West Indies travel to India for their third tour of the country in three years. Now rather familiar foes, the two sides are separated by a chasm of quality. India are undisputed champions in the world of one-day cricket, despite what the ICC rankings may say, while the West Indies possess individual superstars that battle to knit together as a unit while in the maroon jersey. The last time the West Indies won an ODI series in India was a decade ago, and if successful in the three Test series, would break three decades worth of dormancy in the country. However, the tourists most certainly have their work cut out for them, and the familiar mantra of looking to play “positive cricket” is already doing the rounds.

To Win
India 3/10
Tie 35/1
West Indies 26/10

India were drubbed away in England in the latter parts of the Test series, but bounced back well to dominate the subsequent ODI series 3-1. The shorter format is where India thrive, and a settled first team squad allows for added consistency. India would have been tempted to rest a number of their overworked stars, however only Ravi Ashwin was granted the luxury of watching this series from afar. With next year’s World Cup a primary concern for all international sides, settling on a balanced XI that know their respective roles is of the utmost importance. When it comes to the above, few do it better than India.

Rohit Sharma missed the closing half of the series in England due to injury, forcing India to find another opening combination. Ajinkya Rahane stepped up ably to partner Shikhar Dhawan, but with the inclusion of Murali Vijay in the squad for the injured Sharma, Rahane is likely to drop back into the middle-order. And what a middle-order it is. Virat Kohli, Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina join the in-form Rahane, with the likes of Dhoni and Jadeja to provide lusty blows from lower-order. In the seam department, India have opted for a collection of Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The biggest change to the squad comes among the spinners. With Ashwin rested and Karn Sharma overlooked, teenage chinaman sensation Kuldeep Yadav will compete with Amit Mishra for a place in the side. Yadav is yet to play a domestic one-day match and his entire senior career consists of eight T20 matches.

West Indies
As stated, this is bound to be a painful tour for the West Indies. Indeed, having played so much cricket in the country over the past three years, one would expect that they would construct their side with better understanding of the conditions. Only one frontline spinner will make the trip to the subcontinent, and he is not even first choice. Sunil Narine has been withdrawn from a tour in which he was expected to thrive due to his banning from BCCI cricket events for an illegal action. He is allowed to play international cricket, but following an understandably livid Clive Lloyd stating that a source has informed him that Narine will be called out on his action if he plays during the tour, the only option for the West Indies is to send the spinner for an assessment of his action. Sulieman Benn has been called up as a replacement. There are two possible schools of thought here. One, that the West Indies simply do not have any other spinners that they can rely on, or two, that spinners do not figure prominently in their plans for next year’s World Cup. Either way, West Indian sides of lore did not need spinners to win in India. However, modern day West Indian cricket could not be further removed from their glory days.

In further bad news, the tourists will miss Chris Gayle with injury. It necessitates another power-packed opening partnership in Dwayne Smith and Lendl Simmons, however the latter is struggling with back problems. The West Indies have also called up a trio of experienced players in Smith, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor. Guyana batsman Leon Johnson has made the squad after a successful debut series against Bangladesh. While cracks have already began to show for the West Indies, beaten twice by India A in their warm-up fixtures, one of the defeats by a margin of nine wickets, key players Dwayne Bravo, Smith and Andre Russell have yet to slot in. However, as the recent past has dictated, no matter how many individuals of fearsome reputation one packs into the West Indian side, getting them to fire together is a different task completely.

Nehru Stadium in Kochi will play host to the first ODI, a ground that has never hosted a Test match but is still regarded as a batsman’s paradise. In the eight completed ODIs played at the ground there have been numerous totals in excess of 300 and India have won six of the matches. As always, spinners will play in big part in attempting to dry up runs. There will almost certainly be rain overnight and there is a 40% of late thunderstorms, putting a full fixture in jeopardy.

VERDICT: India 3/10
India are short favourites for a reason and even in the unfortunate scenario of a Duckworth/Lewis calculation, have my backing to take this match comfortably. West Indies have looked shaky at best with the bat and their lack of a significant threat with the ball should come back to haunt them. India look to be a banker bet.

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