After a 2-1 T20I series victory, the Indian cricket team locks horns with West Indies in a three-match ODI series, starting December 15 in Chennai. India go into the series as the favourites. They had earlier beaten West Indies 2-0 in the ODIs in August, besides outperforming them in the ICC World Cup 2019 encounter.
This is India’s final assignment in 2019 and captain Virat Kohli will be wanting to end the year on a strong note. After the World Cup, India have played a ruthless brand of cricket. They haven’t lost a single series and the hold in the game has been there for everyone to witness.
West Indies, under Kieron Pollard, are a work in progress. The team showed character in the T20Is and the work in ODIs needs to be up there. They have to put up a fight against the Men in Blue. Pollard will be hoping that his side plays with a lot of heart and character. They do not need to take pressure and should rather focus on playing a free brand of cricket.
Both teams have some interesting players who could excel in this series. Here we look at the players who could have the most influence.
Virat Kohli’s love affair in ODIs with WI could continue
Kohli’s domination in ODIs against West Indies is a familiar tale and this could be another crucial series for the 31-year-old Indian skipper. 2019 has been a superb one for Kohli, who has scored 1,288 runs and tops the chart. He also has five hundreds to his name. The star batsman dominated the show against WI last year and this time we could see him dominate once again.
Kohli has been on another level against the Windies in the 50-over format. When you look at his numbers, in 36 ODIs, he has amassed 2,146 runs. His stunning average of 76.64 is the highest among batsmen in India-West Indies ODIs.
His best score against the Caribbean side is 157*. The Indian captain is also the only player to have scored 2,000-plus runs in India-West Indies ODI matches.
The right-handed batsman has scored 11,520 career ODI runs. He needs another 60 more to surpass former South African hero Jacques Kallis (11,579) in terms of ODI runs.
Mohammed Shami has the right mindset to attack Windies
Right-arm pacer Mohammed Shami has been the real deal in both Tests and ODIs of late. 2019 has gone on a wonderful note for the Bengal pacer, who has clinched 37 scalps in ODIs this year. He needs two wickets to go past Trent Boult (38) as the highest wicket-taker in 2019. Shami, who made a return to the T20I side in the third encounter in Mumbai, was excellent with a brace.
He can continue to rise and let his form do the talking. Shami is bowling more fuller and accurate. His pace has increased as well and at the death, he will be crucial to keep the runs in check. With the new ball, he will be required to pick up the wickets in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Shami has done well in ODIs and has taken 131 wickets. His partnership with fellow pacer Deepak Chahar will be key.
Rohit and Rahul can be India’s answer atop in ODIs
Rohit Sharma will be vying to be the top run-scorer in ODIs this year. The highest run-scorer in the ICC World Cup 2019, Rohit has lit up 2019 with 1,232 runs this year. Notably, he has smashed six centuries. The celebrated opener had a superb time in the third T20I recently and is in line to script some records in the series.
A hundred for Rohit in the series will see him equal former Sri Lankan legend Sanath Jayasuriya in terms of career ODI tons (28). Rohit can also go past Yuvraj Singh in terms of career ODI runs. His presence at the top is essential for Team India in getting that solidity and setting the base. In 218 ODIs, Rohit has amassed 8,686 runs at 48.52.
His opening partner KL Rahul was solid in the T20Is and the right-handed batsman was at his sublime best. He was striking the ball well and scored at a brisk rate. Rahul knows he has a chance to build his confidence in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan.
Shai Hope: The man Windies require to fire atop
West Indies will have the luxury of having a consistent name atop in the form of Shai Hope. The wicket-keeper batsman has been in good touch in the ODIs this year. He has slammed 1,123 runs to his name in 25 matches in 2019. Hope did reasonably well with bat in the last ODI series against Afghanistan as he scored 229 in three matches at an average of 229.00.
The 26-year old, who wasn’t a part of the T20I series, needs to give West Indies the desired starts upfront. He needs to bat sensibly upfront and be that desired anchorman. With many youngsters in the line-up, Hope can be the carrier of this side. He is in line to finish as the top run-scorer this year and that will be another factor in store.
In 69 career ODIs, Hope has scored 2,785 runs at an average of 50.63. He has seven hundreds and 14 fifties to his name.
Sheldon Cottrell the key asset for West Indies
West Indian left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell showed his character in the T20Is and the was the standout figure in the series. With his productive show, one can expect him to continue in the same vein against the hosts. His ODI record is a decent one against Virat Kohli and Co.
The entertaining Cottrell will want to bowl in the right channels and challenge the top order batsmen in the Indian cricket team. His incoming deliveries could be pivotal. He caused some issues against the likes of Rohit in the T20Is and ff he manages to get through the top order, things can get nervy for an inexperienced Indian middle order in the series.
Cottrell has picked up 34 wickets in 27 ODIs at 32.05.