One eye on weather, one on India's middle order
June 25, 2017
Start time 0900 local (1300 GMT)
Nine am starts in a bilateral series, after a world tournament has ended, with rain in the air, is asking a lot of a spectator. But for those die-hard fans who will still make the trip to the Queens Park Oval, be advised. Port-of-Spain is expected to receive thundershowers on Sunday afternoon, so don't be surprised if you hit your head on a big red sign in front of the ground that says, "nothing to see here". The sensible lot would take the time to sleep in, but the players don't really have that luxury.
India, for example, might not have anyone to grumble "five more minutes, coach," to on this tour, but they do have a few rookies they'd want to get in shape. Left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav was handed a debut on Friday but he didn't even step on to the field with the match being washed out. Uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was not in the XI, but considering the low stakes, it might be useful to give him as many starts as possible to see if he could fit in the 2019 World Cup puzzle.
In any case, it is starting to seem like the only way India can check on a middle-order batsman is if they can promote him to open. Typically it is their top order that fetches the bulk of the runs in ODIs - on Friday, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane contributed 149 out of 199 before the rain came down.
West Indies - from 39.2 overs of play - looked steady, and their bowlers were especially clever against Virat Kohli. Pitching it short of a length and outside off stump - on a surface that gave them a little extra lift - they forced the India captain to return with a strike rate of 68. He couldn't get on top of the ball to bring his powerful wrists into play and he was rarely offered the drive as a means of escape. Take this attack lightly at your peril.
West Indies WLLLW (completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
At 20, Alzarri Joseph generates pace effortlessly, not unlike Kagiso Rabada, who already leads South Africa's attack in all formats. But that is only an asset when combined with discipline, and some creativity in the form of variations. Joseph showed with his dismissal of Rahane - an offcutter the batsman simply did not see coming - that he is more than ready for modern cricket.
The merits in retaining Yuvraj Singh, even though he is 35, become apparent when he is in form. A career-best 150 against England and a 29-ball fifty against Pakistan showcased the best of his timing. In fact, since his comeback in January 2017, he has averaged 45 and struck at 102.24. He might have to keep up that level of performance to ward off competition from the likes of Pant, Manish Pandey (injured) and KL Rahul (injured), though.
Considering the last match they played ended in a no-result, West Indies might want to persist with the same XI.
West Indies (probable): 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Jonathan Carter, 5 Jason Mohammed, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Jason Holder (capt), 8 Ashley Nurse, 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Devendra Bishoo, 11 Miguel Cummins,
India came to the Caribbean with two uncapped players. One of them - Kuldeep - has debuted already and the other - Pant - would be looking forward to a first ODI cap as well.
India (probable): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Umesh Yadav
Pitch and conditions
Before the first ODI, Jeffrey Dujon described the pitch at the Queens Park Oval as a "tie-dye t-shirt" by Jeffrey Dujon, implying that it was difficult to assess. The one thing he was certain of was that it would spin in the first innings and flatten out later.
Stats and trivia
- The average run-rate batting first at the venue across 66 matches is 4.86. That translates to an average score of 243.
- Dhawan and Rahane's last five ODI partnerships read: 83, 125, 56, 112, 132
- Jason Holder has 48 wickets as West Indies captain - the same as Courtney Walsh
Fans in the Indian subcontinent will be able watch near-live clips of major events during the match on ESPNcricinfo, both on scorecard pages and story pages, and in case you miss watching the match live, you can catch all the highlights and stories told through videos on the site. And the entire series will be streamed live in the Indian subcontinent on ESPN.in and on SonyLIV
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo