West Indies vs India: Gayle against Shami and other key battles to watch in ODI series

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Shami will be up again Gayle once again.

The memories of the 2019 ICC World Cup are still afresh for both West Indies and India as the two sides prepare to lock horns in a three-match ODI series beginning at Guyana on Thursday.

While Windies finished second from bottom after registering the mere two wins in England, India had to suffer heartbreak in the semi-final against New Zealand after a near perfect round-robin phase campaign.

It will now be a time to rebuild for both teams as they start their next four-year ODI cycle for the 2023 World Cup in the subcontinent. As the two sides prepare to go head-to-head, we look at three key battles that could decide the fate of the ODI series.

Pooran v Chahal

One of the rare positives for Windies from their disappointing World Cup campaign was the form of Nicholas Pooran with the bat. The 23-year-old wicketkeeper batsman showed his class and has averaged nearly 48 with the bat in ODI cricket so far while maintaining a strike-rate of almost 100.

With an ability to effortlessly clear the boundary ropes, Pooran will be a big threat to India’s bowlers in the three ODIs and he has already shown glimpses of that potential in the preceding T20I series.

Pooran’s battle against India’s wrist-spinners will be a fascinating one to watch with the left-hander most likely to go on the offensive at every given opportunity. One man who relishes bowling to attacking batsmen is Yuzvendra Chahal but the senior India wrist-spinner will need to up his game after looking ordinary for the most part in England.

Pooran has the strokes to unsettle India's spinners.

Pooran has the strokes to unsettle India’s spinners.

Holder v Kohli

One of the more fascinating battles will be the individual tussle between the two skippers who love leading their respective sides from the front. All-rounder Jason Holder has been the talisman for Windies on several occasions in the past and is a fighter at the crease with both bat and ball.

It is with the ball that Holder will look to do most of the damage and the Windies skipper will be eyeing the grand scalp of Virat Kohli above all. While Kohli failed to register a single ton in the World Cup, he still churned out the runs at an impressive rate before his failure in the semi-final.

The India skipper looked back to his very best in the final T20 against West Indies at the same venue on Tuesday and he will be looking to carry over that form into the ODI series.

Kohli, however, will need to be wary of the threat posed by Holder who has dismissed him on four occasions in the past which also includes the 2019 World Cup showdown between India and West Indies.

Holder has had Kohli's numbers four times in the past.

Holder has had Kohli’s numbers four times in the past.

Gayle v Shami

Returning to the international cricket for perhaps one last bang is Chris Gayle with the veteran opener having been granted his wish to feature in the ODI series against India.

The 39-year-old southpaw did not have the best of World Cups where he averaged just 30 with the bat and he will want to put on a much better show in a series which could potentially be his international swansong.

Gayle and is now just two caps away from 300 ODI appearances for West Indies and he comes into the series on the back of some explosive displays in the Caribbean Premier League.

The Jamaican, however, will have to contend with the pace threat of Mohammed Shami with the new ball. Gayle’s innings in the World Cup against India was cut short by the same man and the pacer will be desperate to get back into the thick of things after being rested for the T20 series.

Shami was excellent for India in the World Cup with 14 wickets in just four matches at an average of just over 13 and he will be expected to lead the pace attack in the Caribbean for the visitors in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah.

The 'Universe Boss' will feature against India.

The ‘Universe Boss’ will feature against India.

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