By India Today Sports Desk: India will begin their final leg of preparations for the ODI World Cup at home in a 3-match series against West Indies in West Indies from July 27. Barbados and Trinidad will host the 3 ODIs between the Asian giants and the former powerhouse of world cricket, who are set to miss the World Cup for the first time in their history.
India are unlikely to be tested hard by the West Indies side, which has been on the decline, but the 3-match series will give them an opportunity to find solutions and work toward settling in on combinations in the lead-up to the World Cup. India will play 3 ODIs against the West Indies, 3 against Australia and the Asia Cup before they head into the World Cup at home.
India will look to use the 3-match ODI series against the Shai Hope-led West Indies as an opportunity to zero in on back-ups amid injury concerns to their star players. Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Rishabh Pant have all been on the sidelines due to injuries and the first three are likely to be available for India’s World Cup campaign, provided they recover in time and are match-fit during the showpiece event.
ISHAN KISHAN VS SANJU SAMSON
While KL Rahul is expected to be India’s first-choice wicketkeeper if fit, the battle for the back-up wicketkeeper’s slot will pan out in the West Indies. Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson will be in contention for the wicketkeeper’s slot in the absence of KL Rahul.
Unlike the T20I format, Sanju Samson has been consistent in the ODI format, having scored 330 runs in 11 ODIs at an average of close 66.
Before the T20 World Cup in 2022, Samson was in fine form, scoring an unbeaten 86 and thirty-plus scores against South Africa but he was not picked for the series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia in 2023.
However, the wicketkeeper-batter has been recalled to the ODI side and he still has an opportunity to make a late dash into the World Cup squad.
On the other hand, Ishan Kishan, who hit the fastest double century for India in Bangladesh last year, had a string of low scores (5, 8 not out, 17, 3) in ODIs against New Zealand and Australia earlier this year.
However, Ishan’s recent showing in the Test series where he scored a 33-ball fifty and kept wickets to spinners impressively might tilt it in his favour. Also, India are in need of a left-hander in the middle-order as Ravindra Jadeja is the only other option available in the absence of Rishabh Pant.
India struggled against leg-spinner Adam Zampa earlier in the year and they felt the absence of a left-hander in the middle-order. Riding high on confidence, India might take a punt on the left-handed wicketkeeper-batter.
WI vs IND, 1st ODI PREDICTED XIs
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umran Malik, Mohammed Siraj, Jaydev Unadkat.
West Indies: Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Keacy Carty, Shai Hope (captain and wicketkeeper), Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Kevin Sinclair, Alzarri Joseph, Oshane Thomas, Jayden Seales
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Suryakumar Yadav, who returns to international cricket action after his poor run of form against Australia. Suryakumar bagged 3 ducks on the trot but he put that behind and hit 605 runs in 16 matches for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2023.
Suryakumar’s game-changing ability with the bat is well-documented and India will hope that the senior batter clicks in the middle-order even as Shreyas Iyer is racing against time to recover for the World Cup.
India will also have to choose between Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for the second spinner’s role as Ravindra Jadeja is set to take a sport in the XI. Hardik Pandya is a certainty in the squad while India have a plethora of all-rounders to choose from.
India also have 5 pace-bowling options to choose from. While Mohammed Siraj is expected to lead the attack, Umran Malik is expected to get another chance after failing to impress earlier. Mukesh Kumar, who made his Test debut in the West Indies is also in the fray, while Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur are available for selection.
On the other hand, West Indies will be pegged back by the absence of Nicholas Pooran and Jason Holder but the return of Shimron Hetmyer is welcome news.