After a rather underwhelming T20I series which saw a string of low-scoring matches, India and West Indies will lock horns in the 50-over version of the game. The match will also mark the Men in Blue’s first ODI clash since their heartbreak against the Kiwis in the semi-final of the World Cup.
Rohit Sharma: He averages 61.85 in ODIs against the Windies, and he is coming on the back of a record-breaking World Cup. It almost felt like Rohit Sharma was using the T20s as a warm-up for the ODIs, and this means just one thing - bad news for the Windies. If anything, Rohit would be looking to score a daddy hundred if he gets to the coveted three-figure mark, having gotten out on 103, 104 and 102 the last three occasions he went to cross the landmark.
Shikhar Dhawan: The Delhite’s World Cup was cut abruptly short due to an injury he sustained against Australia, where he scored a match-winning 117 - playing with a fractured thumb. But make no mistake, after having had three mediocre outings in the T20Is, Shikhar Dhawan would be desperate to come good, and show the Indian team and the fans what they missed during the World Cup. However, having averaged a meager 22.4 in India’s last bilateral series against the Windies, it would be fair to say that the Caribbeans have the edge over the leftie, and it will be no easy task for the 33-year-old to pile on the runs.
Virat Kohli: If putting failures behind is an art, then Virat Kohli would be the picasso of it. From the very day India lost to New Zealand in the semi-final, you could bet that Kohli would have been waiting for this exact moment, so that he could put the failure of the World Cup behind him, and get back to business. Despite scoring five fifties in the World Cup, the Indian skipper uncharacteristically failed to convert every single one into a hundred, and maybe parity will be restored in the 1st ODI, and maybe Kohli will go on to score his 42nd ODI hundred.
KL Rahul: From not being in the picture months ahead of the World Cup, to going into the tournament as a backup opener to actually playing as the No.4 before eventually being moved back up to due to Dhawan’s injury, life has come full circle for KL Rahul, who now once again finds himself in an uncertain position. With Dhawan, an automatic pick, fully fit, Rahul would need to fill up the No.4 position once again, however, this time around, he will have stern competition for the slot in the form of Shreyas Iyer, and failure to deliver might yet again see him become a backup opener.
Rishabh Pant: He has been publicly touted by everyone as MS Dhoni’s successor, and it did seem like the pressure was indeed getting to him, but he quashed all doubts on Tuesday with his match-winning effort in the 3rd T20I. But irrespective of that performance, the 21-year-old wicket-keeper would need to back his efforts up in the ODIs, as an average of 26.12 hardly speaks about his talent and ability, and one can say that now is the perfect time for him to step out of Dhoni’s shadows and establish a name for himself.
Manish Pandey: Manish Pandey was supposed to be groomed for the No.4 position for the 2019 World Cup, but after inadvertently finding himself out of World Cup plans, he has somehow found himself back in the mix once again, and evidence from the T20Is show that the selectors indeed trust him, at least more than Iyer. He didn’t set the world on fire in the T20s, but with Kedar Jadhav still in the mix and with Iyer definitely ought to get a shot at some point in the series, it all but feels like Pandey’s last shot at redemption.
Ravindra Jadeja: You’ve got to be a ridiculously good cricketer to push a player like Kuldeep Yadav out of the team, and Ravindra Jadeja has proved his worth both with bat and ball. After being on the bench for several months, the all-rounder grasped his opportunity with both hands in the World Cup, and almost single-handedly dragged India into the final. He might have fell marginally short of taking his team home, but the 30-year-old, with his performances, has ensured that he is the team’s go-to all-rounder, and now perhaps will be looking to build a name for himself in the shorter format.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Despite constantly probing the batsmen bowling impeccable lines and lengths with the new ball, Bhuvneshwar Kumar somehow seems to have lost his ability to strike in the powerplay, an aspect which will be looking to improve on. He showed his class in the T20I series yet again, as he tormented the batsmen with his consistency to go with his inch-perfect death bowling, and come Thursday, the 29-year-old will be looking to make himself as India’s go-to man in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah.
Mohammad Shami: There will be no player itching to get on the ground and prove a point to the selectors more than Mohammad Shami, who was rather unfairly dropped in the semi-final of the World Cup despite accounting for 14 scalps from the four matches he played prior to it. In dire contrast to Bhuvi, Shami strikes often in the powerplays, while struggling to get his accuracy on point during the death overs. All things assured, he is bound to get ample opportunities in the series to prove that he is more than a one-trick pony, and the 28-year-old will be eager to prove the selectors why dropping him in the semi-final was a mistake.
Yuzvendra Chahal: With 12 wickets in eight matches in the World Cup, Yuzvendra Chahal ended the tournament as the highest wicket-taking spinner. But the leggie would be well aware that his spot in the team is anything but assured, especially having seen his partner-in-crime Kuldeep get axed without second thoughts. Whether his exclusion from the T20Is means anything significant is still open for debate, but with Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar and even Kuldeep waiting on the sidelines, the 29-year-old would need a performance of significance to reassure his place in the starting XI.
Navdeep Saini: He caught the eye of the general public in the IPL with his pace which devastated even the best of batsmen, and after finally getting his chance in international cricket, the speedster certainly didn’t disappoint. On his debut, he got whacked for a six on just his second delivery, but responded by taking wickets in consecutive deliveries after that, and finished the innings off with a wicket-maiden. It is no wonder that with such attitude and ability, the Haryana-born pacer has been talked up so highly, and come Thursday, the 26-year-old will be looking to make his mark in ODI cricket.
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