After India came out on top in the recently concluded T20I series with a resounding victory at the Wankhede Stadium, the focus now shifts to the ODIs where the visitors will hope to put up a better fight and take something back from the tour. With the Chennai ODI on Sunday, we take a look at five key battles that might prove decisive in which way the game goes.
Mohammed Shami vs Evin Lewis
With the kind of form he has been showing in all formats of the game, sometimes superlatives are not enough to describe just how good Mohammed Shami has been for India in the recent past. He will be the man tasked with giving India a good start with the ball, irrespective of whether they are fielding first or second. But in Evin Lewis, he has a more-than-able opponent who is capable of getting off to a whirlwind start when things go his way. Whoever wins this battle at the start of this innings automatically increases his team’s chances of getting a positive result at the end.
Kieron Pollard vs Yuzvendra Chahal
All the noises coming out of Chennai so far have been about the potential nature of the pitch – one that is expected to favour spinners more than fast bowlers. With that as context, the potential battle between leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Kieron Pollard becomes even more important, given they are likely to come up against each other when West Indies will be in the need for acceleration during their batting innings. Chahal will have a bag of tricks up his sleeve against Pollard who he has gone toe-to-toe with on many occasions, and if he comes out on top, he significantly increases India’s chances of a positive result.
Sheldon Cottrell vs Rohit Sharma
As a neutral, one just loves to see the trademark ‘Cottrell Salute’. As an opponent, not so much. So when Cottrell comes steaming in to bowl to Rohit Sharma at the start of the Indian batting innings, the in-form Indian batsman will look to get the Chennai crowd on his side and dominate from the get-go. With Cottrell, one knows what to expect – a complete dedication to his craft and maximum effort in every delivery. However, will that be enough to deal with the threat of the Indian vice-captain at the top of the order? Only time will tell.
Roston Chase vs Deepak Chahar
With a handy average of 28.3 in the lower-middle order, Roston Chase is very often the difference-maker in close matches for the West Indies with his contributions in that position. While handy with the ball as well, it’s Chase’s competence with the bat along with Kieron Pollard in that position which West Indies banks upon. He will be up against the uncanny accuracy of Deepak Chahar who is likely to be chosen as the second seam bowler alongside Shami. However, it will be a test for Chahar in ODIs, having only played one match for India in the format before and taken one wicket.
Rishabh Pant vs Hayden Walsh Jr
Hayden Walsh Jr is the latest name of young, promising West Indian cricketers to be thrown into the ring with big things expected from him in the future. He has taken an unconventional path to the West Indies cricket team, after having played for the USA national team before as well and playing for West Indies owing to his Antiguan heritage. However, popular opinion in India is that the time to use the same “young, promising” adjectives for Rishabh Pant must come to an end, and this is the perfect series for him to step up and improve his current ODI average of 22.9. With Walsh being a relatively unknown quantity, it will be interesting to see how Pant approaches playing the youngster.