The Preview by Ankur Dhawan
This time comes once every four years and no, it's not the World Cup. But it's a corollary, a period to reassess and rebuild, until 2023 is upon us. Time's a luxury and an irritant for West Indies and India, as the process begins now but only an outline of the squad that might still be relevant four years later can emerge at this stage, if at all.
The cliché about being in the moment is perhaps more applicable, particularly for those who have just broken into the squads. It's probably a better time for them too, to play with the kind of freedom that would have got them to this level in the first place, without having any end goals other than to deliver on the day.
It's also a case of knowing that you aren't just filling in for someone who is guaranteed to reclaim the position upon return. It's an issue Shreyas Iyer faced in his first three ODI appearances , taking Virat Kohli's No.3 slot when the captain opted out of the Sri Lanka home series in 2017. With plenty of room in the middle order, Iyer, along with Manish Pandey - whose form turned after he was promoted to No.3 by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL - will hope to establish themselves. The MS Dhoni question remains but Rishabh Pant - the lone keeper in the squad - has more opportunities to have his say in the matter.
For West Indies, Jason Holder's return should calm things down after self-destruction started to trend during the T20Is. The stage also seems set for Chris Gayle to say goodbye at home, after the opener decided he wasn't quite done with ODIs at the end of West Indies' World Cup campaign. A few other changes from the squad that finished 9th in the World Cup were inevitable, as the likes of John Campbell, Roston Chase and Keemo Paul - who all played in the Ireland tri-nation - return to the fold.
West Indies WLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Rishabh Pant has been quicker to establish himself in Tests than in the formats he was presumably more suited to. Virender Sehwag had baffled similarly through his career. While the benefits of attacking fields in Tests are high for attacking batsmen, should they get going, somehow it seems to influence shot selection, which both in Sehwag's and Pant's case - so far - have been better in the longer format. Pant showed enormous restraint in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand before losing patience against the spin of Mitchell Santner, a shot that came in for heavy criticism. He followed that up with a first-ball top-edged sweep against Sunil Narine in the first T20I, which briefly gave West Indies an opening. However, just when the pressure was building, he chaperoned a tricky chase in the final T20I to earn praise from his captain. If he can build on that performance in the coming ODIs, India's future plans will become easier to chalk out.
The future will be shaped now and West Indies have their hopes pinned on youngsters like John Campbell. Campbell started with that record-breaking stand with Shai Hope against Ireland before the World Cup, but far from building on that, hasn't done anything of note since, signified by a total of 21 runs in his next four innings. He was slightly unlucky to miss out on the last two T20Is against India, after he swept one cleanly but found the fielder on the boundary off just his second ball in the first match. With Gayle's days numbered, this could be Campbell's opportunity to feed off West Indies' second most successful batsman in ODIs, before the baton is passed on to him.
West Indies will have to choose between Evin Lewis and John Campbell at the top to partner Chris Gayle. Roston Chase could be the only spinner as he can bat in the top seven, allowing them to field a strong pace attack, which was their strength in the home series against England.
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Evin Lewis/John Campbell, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Jason Holder (capt), 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Kemar Roach, 10 Oshane Thomas, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
In the absence of Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja's recent batting form means he will be an easy swap as the genuine allrounder batting at No.7. That might mean that India pick three seamers and one of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as the second spinner. The third-seamer spot, in that case, will be a toss up between Navdeep Saini and Khaleel Ahmed. The batting line-up might be determined by whether India are confident going in with just five bowlers.
India (Probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 KL Rahul, 5 Manish Pandey/Kedar Jadhav/Shreyas Iyer, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk) 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Khaleel Ahmed/Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
With a couple of morning showers predicted, bowling first could have its advantages. But going by the slowness of the wicket in the final T20I, chasing could prove equally challenging, should the team batting first manage a reasonable total.