Just 13 overs of play was possible in the first ODI before the game was called off. India remain the favourites for Sunday’s clash with the Men in Blue whitewashing the Windies 3-0 in the preceding T20I series.
Hosts search for ODI redemption
Despite the presence of some of the most exciting limited-overs talents, it has been an unending struggle for West Indies in the ODI format.
The last time that the two-time world champions won an ODI series was all the way back in August, 2014 when they blanked Bangladesh 3-0 on their home soil. In the five years since, West Indies have played 19 ODI series without winning a single one of them.
Eighteen of those series have come under the captaincy of all-rounder Jason Holder and he will be desperate for the horrendous run to come to an end.
A loss on Friday will make it 20 series without a win and that is an unflattering record the Windies will definitely not want to have besides their name.
Gayle on the verge of double milestone
Chris Gayle’s wish to play one more ODI series after the World Cup has been granted but the veteran’s decision has also divided opinions. Many feel that the time is right for the 39-year-old to now step aside and the let the ODI team rebuild.
The Jamaican has not given any indication that the current series will be his last for the West Indies but he will definitely not want to bow out before breaking Brian Lara’s longstanding record.
The most-capped Windies ODI player in history will be making his 300th appearance in the format on Sunday and will have his eyes on overhauling Lara’s run-tally.
With 10,342 runs to his name in 299 matches, Gayle is just seven runs away from become the all-time leading run-scorer for West Indies in ODI cricket. Lara currently holds the record with 10,348 runs in 295 matches.
India likely to remain unchanged
With the first ODI lasting just 13 overs, skipper Virat Kohli will be hesitant to make changes. The visitors had named 24-year-old batsman Shreyas Iyer in the playing XI for the clash and he will likely get another chance on Sunday.
The middle-order batsman can be the answer to India’s No4 issue if he can take his chances. Kedar Jadhav also seems set to feature on Sunday after being preferred over the likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey in the first ODI.
It was Kuldeep Yadav who captured the sole wicket of Gayle in the first ODI and the left-arm wrist-spinner will most probably get the nod over Yuzvendra Chahal again. Kuldeep was well below his best at the recent World Cup but Kohli will be hoping that the wicket of Gayle can help the 24-year-old rediscover his bowling rhythm again.
West Indies: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis,Shai Hope (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Jason Holder (c), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Kedar Jadhav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed.
Bangladesh stalwart Tamim Iqbal has requested the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to grant him a break for the side’s upcoming Test against Afghanistan as well as the T20 tri-series also involving Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh are due to take on Afghanistan in a one-off Test match that gets underway on September 5 before they play hosts to a T20 tri-series beginning on September 13.
”We have received a letter from Tamim in this regard ,” BCB’s cricket operation chairman Akram Khan was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
”We will take a decision about it after the Eid vacation,” he added.
The southpaw has been out of form for some time now and was dismal with the bat in Bangladesh’s recent tour of Sri Lanka. Tamim was able to manage just the 21 runs in the three innings with the Tigers being whitewashed 3-0 in the ODI series.
The experienced batsman had been appointed as the team’s stand-in skipper for the Sri Lankan tour as well after Mashrafe Mortaza pulled out with a hamstring injury.
The opening batsman did not have the best of World Cups in England either prior to that series and was able to muster just the 235 runs in eight innings at an average of approximately 29.
According to another report by ESPNcricinfo, Tamim has been granted his request for a break and will now only be back in action for the tour of India which gets underway later in November this year.
Tamim is not the first Bangladesh player to have asked the BCB for a break from cricket in recent times. Star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan had a similar requested granted to him in 2017 during the Test series against South Africa and was given another break for the recent tour of Sri Lanka.
Comparisons with India skipper Virat Kohli have followed Babar Azam ever since the Pakistan batsman burst on to the international scene in 2015 but the 24-year-old feels that they are unwarranted.
The right-hander recently became the second fastest batsman in ODI history to register 3,000 runs during the 2019 World Cup in England and achieved the milestone in 68 innings compared to the 75 taken by Kohli to get to the mark.
However, the Pakistan sensation believes that comparisons with other batsmen such as Kohli are not really called for.
“I don’t think there is or should be any comparison as we are different types of players. I just focus on my batting and working on my strengths and weaknesses and have no desire to be compared with any other cricketer,” Babar told PakPassion.net in an interview.
“I’m sure I speak for most cricketers when I say comparisons are only for fans and the media and we cricketers don’t really crave any comparisons or want to be compared to any current or former players as that just creates endless pressure.
“As great as he is, I don’t want to be compared to Virat or any other cricketer, I just want to win matches for my country as that is my only aim.”
The Pakistan superstar has been in stellar form over the last few months in England and had an excellent individual campaign for the Men in Green in the World Cup. The 474 runs scored by Babar in eight innings is the highest tally ever recorded by any Pakistan batsman in World Cup history.
The top-order batsman has extended that superb form to his maiden county stint with Somerset in the Vitality T20 Blast where he is currently the leading run-scorer with 425 runs in eight innings at an average of nearly 71 and a strike-rate of more than 155.
Babar was in terrific touch for Somerset on Friday in their clash against Hampshire and struck an unbeaten 102 off just 55 deliveries to set up a 63-run win for his side.
“Playing county cricket had been on my radar for quite a while and when this offer came from Somerset I had no hesitation in accepting it,” he said.
“I have always enjoyed playing in England and recently had a fairly successful World Cup, so the target really is to continue my good form at the World Cup into my time with Somerset. It’s a great set-up at Somerset and they have really made me feel welcome.
“It’s a county with a great tradition and some of the world’s best cricketers have played at Somerset over the years and for me it’s an honour to be playing for this great team.”
With Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur’s contract not renewed after the World Cup, there has been speculation that Sarfraz Ahmed could be removed from his captaincy across all formats.
Babar’s name has naturally been linked as a potential successor but the batsman is not thinking about the captaincy just yet.
“It’s up to the Pakistan Cricket Board to decide whoever captains the teams and in whichever format,” he said.
“The Board will decide who the captain or captains are and the players of course abide by their choice. I’ve never really thought about captaining Pakistan and have in all honesty only thought about playing for my country.
“I am not someone who craves being captain and am more interested in scoring runs for Pakistan. Whoever the Board chooses is the right choice and in fact I think Sarfaraz Ahmed is fine and is doing a good job at the moment.”