With the test series done and dusted, it’s time for the five-match ODI series on India’s tour of the West Indies. The first match is scheduled to be played at Bridgetown on 27 July. The series assumes great importance in an ODI World Cup year.
India’s immediate focus would be on the upcoming Asia Cup set to begin on 30th August. The Indian team management would want to use the West Indies series as well as the Asia Cup to zero in on the best possible 11 for the World Cup.
Seven Players Certain to Play
The first match of the West Indies series would also be important as India would want to win it and take an early lead. Thus, we expect the Indian team management to be conservative in their choice of players.
The following players are in the ODI squad currently on tour in the West Indies:
- Batters: Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Gaikwad, Kohli, Gill
- All-rounders: Pandya, Jadeja, Patel
- Bowlers: Chahal, K Yadav, Siraj, Mukesh, Shardul, Malik, Unadkat
We believe that the following seven players are certainties for the first ODI on 27 July: Gill, Kohli, Hardik, Jadeja, Shardul, Unadkat, and Siraj. The question is, who will the remaining four slots go to?
We believe that India would need to pick three batters from the quartet of Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Suryakumar Yadav. Ishan Kishan who has scored 510 runs from 14 matches at an average of 42.50 must surely be the first choice. Incredibly, his one three-figure knock was a remarkable 210. Samson’s ODI record speaks for itself: he has aggregated 330 runs in 11 matches at an average of 66.00. As Rohit Sharma is set to miss the first ODI, Kishan is likely to open with Gill. That would also allow Samson to get in as the keeper.
The other batter picked would be an effective substitute for Shreyas Iyer who is likely to return to the ODI squad before the World Cup. If we had to go for a like-for-like replacement, we would pick Gaikwad who we believe has the most solid technique. However, Gaikwad’s ODI credentials are not too impressive. He has played only one match in which he made 19 runs. By contrast, Suryakumar Yadav (SKY) has scored 433 runs in 43 matches at an average of 24.05, with a top score of 64. SKY registered a dubious record of three back-to-back first-ball dismissals against Australia recently. However, he is more likely than Gaikwad to play in the first ODI.
With four seamers and a spinner on board, India would need to pick another spinner. We believe that the choice is between Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal. Though India have another spinner in Axar Patel, we think Patel could play only if Hardik or Jadeja were absent. Patel has played 51 matches to take 58 wickets at an average of 19.61, with best figures of 3/24. However, he is a much better batsman than Yadav or Chahal. In fact, he has scored 412 runs at an average of 19.05, with a top score of 64 not out. Thus, Patel has greater value as a bowler who can bat.
By contrast, Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal have better wicket taking ability. Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal have remarkably similar ODI records. Yadav has taken 134 wickets in 81 matches at an average of 27.48. He has registered best bowling figures of 6/25. Chahal has taken 121 wickets from 77 matches at an average of 27.13, with a best match haul of 6/42.
Why Chahal Gets Our Vote
Though Kuldeep Yadav has slightly better ODI credentials, we would opt for Chahal. Chahal as a leg spin googly bowler would bring greater variety. Kuldeep Yadav, like Jadeja bowls left arm unorthodox spin.
Between Ishan Kishan and Samson, we expect Kishan to find favour, even after his MI captain Sharma returns to the helm in the second ODI. However, for the remaining slot, Samson with his good ODI record so far is our first choice. That said, we believe that Suryakumar Yadav will find favour with Rohit Sharma, his skipper in the IPL. However, with Sharma set to miss the first ODI on 27 July, Hardik Pandya will lead in his place. The following players comprise our best eleven in batting order: Gill, Kishan, Kohli, SKY, Samson, Hardik, Jadeja, Shardul, Chahal, Unadkat, Siraj.