India v West Indies, 1st ODI, Kochi November 20, 2013

Back to familiar format after emotional farewell

Match facts

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Start time 1330 local (0800 GMT)

Big Picture

Days after Sachin Tendulkar's emotional farewell, India move on to the format in which they are now quite used to playing without him. Unlike in the Tests, the cricket will no longer be the sideshow. An India win can no longer be taken for granted.

Only a few weeks ago, till the last Australia wicket fell in Bangalore, either set of batsmen could have edged the run-marathon of an ODI series. Over 3500 runs were scored in 11 innings; 350 threatened to permanently become the new 300. Did that series reveal to us the future of ODI cricket in India? Have bowlers been irreparably crippled in such conditions by the restriction of four deep fielders? The next three games will tell us more.

MS Dhoni said his fast bowlers had been working hard on their variations, including yorkers, ever since the Australia series, to ensure they don't leak too many runs at the death. India's batsmen, as usual, will be confident of hunting down whatever their bowlers concede. Dhoni will hope Yuvraj Singh, who had a horror run amid the Australia run glut, is one of them.

West Indies' showing against the No. 1 ODI side will be interesting to track. They lost both Tests inside three days. They have been criticised for being drunk on T20 cricket. Their Test captain's place in the team has been questioned for the umpteenth time.

In the ODIs, they will be a led by a man who was not part of the Test squad, but has similar - many will argue superior - skills compared to the Test captain. What will Dwayne Bravo do in the ODIs that Darren Sammy couldn't in the Tests? How will he lift the morale of a side thumped by an innings in both Kolkata and Mumbai?

Bravo will at least have fresher men to choose from. Apart from a different leader, West Indies will also have different options on all fronts - batting, fast bowling, spin, wicketkeeping. Will all this translate into some sort of a challenge for India? The hosts won 4-1 the previous time the two played in India, in 2011, although West Indies ran them closer than the scoreline suggests. Getting on the board this time will be an achievement, after the embarrassment of the Tests.

Form guide

India WWLWL (last five completed games, most recent first)
West Indies LLTWL

In the spotlight

Chris Gayle had starts in each of his four innings in the Tests, but went past 35 in none of them. He is less likely to not convert a start in limited-overs cricket, although he has had a poor year in the format. Gayle averages 55.85 in India and, barring Zimbabwe, his ODI record in any other Test nation does not even come close. Six of his 22 innings in India have been centuries, which again shows how much he likes to bat in the country.

Rohit Sharma has already scored more ODI runs this year than he did in the previous two years combined. Five days after hitting a double-century in Bangalore, he made a hundred on Test debut in Kolkata, and added another one batting with the No. 11 in Mumbai. Mindboggling is the word. And even during his fallow years, before his move to the top of the order, West Indies were his favourite opposition.

Team news

Vinay Kumar went for 102 runs in nine overs in the last ODI India played in Bangalore. Although he has made it back to the side as an injury replacement for Dhawal Kulkarni, it is hard to see him meriting a place in the XI. Ravindra Jadeja is back, after missing the Tests with a shoulder injury.

India (probable) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jaydev Unadkat/Mohit Sharma, 11 Mohammed Shami

Gayle moved down the order in Pakistan's previous ODI series after three failures as opener. Given his record in India, West Indies might want to move him back up. Sunil Narine, who many said should have played the Tests ahead of Veerasammy Permaul, will take his regular ODI spot. Kieron Pollard is injured and that will help Sammy keep his place in the XI.

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Narsingh Deonarine, 6 Lendl Simmons, 7 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Jason Holder

Pitch and conditions

Only ten overs were possible in the five-day Duleep Trophy final last month in Kochi. One of the finalists had to be decided by the toss of a coin as even two innings could not be completed over six days in the first semi-final, also played in Kochi. The Nehru Stadium, also used for football, has received a lot of flak for its refurbished drainage system. It has also taken a lot of rain. The southwest monsoon is over, but it is northeast monsoon time now in south India. Unusually for an India venue, and in anticipation of more showers, the entire ground, instead of just the square, has been kept under covers. Rain is forecast in the morning and evening of the match, but not during the afternoon.

Stats and trivia

  • Gayle averages 20.73 in ODIs in 2013, his lowest return since 1999, his debut year
  • Virat Kohli is 81 short of 5000 ODI runs. If he gets there in Kochi, he will tie with Viv Richards as the fastest to the landmark in 114 innings


"It's important, not only for them but also for the team, that they score runs - the No. 4 and No. 5 spots are very important. After the openers set the platform, these guys capitalise in the last 10-15 overs."
MS Dhoni wants Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh to fire

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo