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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Shreyas Iyer waiting in the wings as India prepare for ODI battle with West Indies

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Shreyas Iyer has been patiently waiting for his chance.

After a lopsided T20 series where India completed a 3-0 clean sweep over the West Indies, the two sides will meet again on Thursday in the first of the three ODI clashes at Guyana.

It will be the first 50-over outing for the two sides since the completion of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and they will both want to get back to winning ways in the format at Providence.

It will be the visitors who will be undeniably start the three-match ODI series as favourites but the hosts have plenty of firepower.

Gayle’s return boosts hosts

There was hardly anything for the hosts to shout about in the T20I series with the Men in Blue emerging as comprehensive victors. However, the return of veteran opener Chris Gayle to the fold will bolster the hopes of Jason Holder and his men in the three upcoming ODI clashes.

The Jamaican was set to hang up his international boots post the completion of the World Cup but a late change of heart means he will walk out to bat in front of his home fans once again in a Windies shirt.

Gayle did not have the best of times in the World Cup but the southpaw will take confidence from his last ODI series showing in the Caribbean. He was in sensational form when world champions England came calling to the West Indies in February this year and struck two tons and as many half-centuries in four innings against Eoin Morgan and his men.

That form will be what Gayle will hope to bring to the table for the hosts who are desperate for some form of inspiration from somewhere.

The Universe Boss is back for this one.

The Universe Boss is back for this one.

India look to put behind World Cup disappointment

It will be a chance for Virat Kohli and his men to make amends for their failed World Cup campaign where they came unstuck against New Zealand in the semi-final. It had been a near perfect campaign for the Men in Blue otherwise in England but the disappointment of that shock exit will still linger on for some time to come.

Two players who had disappointing World Cup campaigns in England after much was expected of them were wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The duo has been India’s go to spinners in the limited-overs formats over the past two years but they will need to affirm their credentials once again with youngsters such as Rahul Chahar and Washington Sundar waiting in the wings.

Kuldeep and Chahal were not picked in the recent T20 series and they have their work cut out for them in the upcoming ODI series if they want to be on the plane for the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia.

A chance for Kuldeep and Chahal to make amends.

A chance for Kuldeep and Chahal to make amends.

Will Shreyas Iyer get a chance?

India ringed in the changes for the recent T20I series with all members of the squad bar one getting a workout across the three matches. The only player to not get a single outing in the whole series was young Shreyas Iyer.

The 24-year-old has a healthy batting average of 42 in six ODI appearances for India previously but has not been given an extended run in the squad despite the woes in the middle-order. With Shikhar Dhawan returning to the ODI fold after his injury, KL Rahul could once again drop down the order to No4 while Rishabh Pant could be deployed a floater batsman.

That leaves one spot in the middle-order up from grabs and it will be a straight shootout between Iyer and Manish Pandey for it. Pandey was the preferred option in the middle-order for Kohli in the T20 series but the 29-year-old failed to really make an impact with 27 runs in three innings.

Iyer is waiting for his chance in the middle-order.

Iyer is waiting for his chance in the middle-order.

LIKELY XIs

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Jason Holder (c), Keemo Paul, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal/Kuldeep Yadav.

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Top stars on board as T10 League sets base in Abu Dhabi

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T10 creator Shaji Ul Mulk (3rd, l).

The path-breaking T10 League is ready to reach the next level after joining hands with Abu Dhabi. After two successful season at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium, the T10 League has shifted base to the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi after signing a five-year deal.

Backing from major entities like Abu Dhabi Tourism, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Cricket means the stage is set for a blockbuster third edition in November.

On Wednesday, some of the biggest names in franchise cricket put their names in the hat for the 2019 Abu Dhabi T10 draft.

England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik, Windies all-rounder Darren Sammy, Sri Lankan icons Angelo Matthews and Lasith Malinga, Australia star Shane Watson and Caribbean legends Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are some of the names who will be a part of the spectacle.

Eoin Morgan.

Eoin Morgan.

It is a major moment in the UAE and Abu Dhabi cricket and His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, concurred: “Up and down the Abu Dhabi T10 roster you will find world-class talent, big personalities and the best possible ambassadors of the game. We could not be happier at the timing of this partnership to bring the brightest stars in cricket to the UAE, such as Eoin Morgan.”

The brains behind the concept and T10 Sports Management Group Founder and Chairman, Shaji Ul Mulk, was proud of how far the league and format have come.

“The game is changing as evidenced by the phenomenal success of T20,” said Shaji Ul Mulk. “This recent World Cup was also the most-watched ever. However, in order to continue to grow, it’s critical to showcase the best stars on big stages outside India, England and Australia, where it is already hugely popular.

“That’s why partnering with the Government of Abu Dhabi to host T10 on a long-term basis is a natural win-win for everybody who will now get to experience unparalleled cricket action in a truly unforgettable atmosphere.”

In all, eight teams – Kerala Knights, Bengal Tigers, Northern Warriors, Pakhtoon, Deccan Gladiators, Punjabi Legends, Maratha Arabians and Rajput – will be vying for the top prize at the end of the year.

Abu Dhabi Cricket CEO, Matt Boucher, said: “We feel we’ve bolstered the capital’s glowing portfolio of world-class events by ensuring that Abu Dhabi becomes a must-see ticket on the global cricket calendar for the next five years and what this means for the growth of the sport in the region. It’s another big stride in the growth of cricket in Abu Dhabi and we’re grateful to both the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for making this happen.”

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