GUWAHATI, India, CMC – All odds appears stacked against the West Indies as they look to redeem themselves from a wretched outing in the just-concluded Tests, when they face powerhouses India in the opening One-Day International of the five-match series here today.
The Caribbean side meekly lost both Tests inside three days by comprehensive margins but will hope the change in format also brings a transformation in fortunes, though they have been given little hope against the World number two side especially with a relatively inexperienced unit.
In fact, West Indies are missing key players like openers Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis both of whom made themselves unavailable and there also has been no recall for left-hander Darren Bravo, though he has been named for the three Twenty20 Internationals which follow.
It means Windies boast four debutants – all-rounder Fabian Allen, batsman Chandrapaul Hemraj and fast bowlers Oshane Thomas and Obed McCoy – in their 15-man unit and another three players with just 19 ODIs among them.
Further, experienced seamer Kemar Roach has played only five matches in the last three years, following a spell away from international cricket.
West Indies ODI captain Jason Holder … says Windies are bracing for a tough series against the Indians.
Captain Jason Holder acknowledged the deficit in experience but noted it was a process of building towards next year’s World Cup in England.
“It’s a young side, a lot of unfamiliar faces. I just think it is an opportunity for those unfamiliar faces to get an opportunity to showcase what they’ve got,” Holder told reporters ahead of the contest.
“It won’t be easy. Obviously India are playing some very good cricket at the moment. They are probably one of the best one-day sides [and they have] some world class players as well so we expect a really tough challenge from them but as I said before, it’s all about building towards the World Cup.
“We’ve got some youngsters here who we just want to see and hopefully they can express themselves and make us proud.”
He continued: “You see young people like Fabian Allen who has come into this team or McCoy … he’s done really well for us in domestic cricket, so we’ve got good talent here. This is the future for West Indies cricket.
“Obviously for anyone coming into international cricket, there’s a bit of nerves and pressure trying to solidify yourself into the side. Hopefully, those guys can put that aside and channel the nervous energy in the right direction.”
West Indies are ranked ninth in ODIs, just two ratings points above Afghanistan, and their recent ODI record tells the story why. Last year alone, they won just three of 23 matches in bilateral series and have not won a series in four years, since beating Bangladesh in the Caribbean.
In their only bilateral series this year, they went down 2-1 to the Bangladeshis at home.
Their recent record against India also makes for dire reading. They have not beaten their hosts in a series 12 years and have not won a series on the subcontinent in nearly two decades.
But Holder said with the World Cup fast approaching, it was important that his players made the most of every opportunity available.
“We’ve had a pretty long year. We started with the World Cup qualifiers, moving down to the one-dayers in Bangladesh [later this year]. This has been our third encounter in terms of ODI cricket for the year,” the all-rounder pointed out.
“There’s still lots of cricket leading up to that World Cup. Hopefully our players can utilise these games as best as possible and hopefully get some performances in behind them going into the World Cup to give them lots of confidence.”
The day/night match bowls off at 1:30 pm (4 am Eastern Caribbean time).
INDIA – Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yujvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Khaleel Ahmed
WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Obed McCoy, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Oshane Thomas.