You could understand why. The West Indies had not only lost their previous six matches, but had lost most of them completely: by 120 runs
and 53 runs
against Pakistan, and then with 55 balls left and a whopping 176 balls left against Bangladesh. In five of those six games, the West Indies failed to run 50 overs.
Against India on Friday, the West Indies hit their full 50 overs and came within one goal after completing only their third successful chase of a Over 300 target in ODIs
. There were also positives with the ball; at one point it looked like India would easily get past 350, but the West Indies set them back admirably, taking five wickets and conceding just 83 runs in the last 15 overs.
As impressive as that performance was, the West Indies were almost at full strength, playing at home against an Indian side that was missing most of its first-choice players. Despite all the pride Pooran showed in his team’s performance on Friday, he and his teammates will be desperate to put victories on the plate. And they will be wary of false dawn. This series of defeats finally started with the West Indies scoring 305 in a narrow loss at Multan.
West Indies LLLLL (last five ODIs completed, most recent first)
has been one of ODI cricket’s most consistent run-getters in his day, but as his 7 of 18 balls in the first ODI showed, those runs can sometimes come at a pace that harks back to an earlier age. Of the 16 highest finishers in ODIs since its debut, Hope has the lowest success rate
(74.86), with only one other batter in that top 16 – Tamim Iqbal – scoring under 80. However, he plays an important role in this West Indian line-up and they will hope he can make a crucial contribution when he plays his 100th ODI on Sunday.
has a ODI economy rate of 6.63
. Of all the bowlers who have taken at least 20 wickets since his debut, only one – Oshane Thomas – has fared worse on that front. Thakur brings other things to the table, though, and his presentation on Friday summed it up. He came to the crease with just nine balls left and hit a last-ball line that proved very useful given India’s narrow margin of victory. And while he was India’s most expensive bowler in terms of thrift, sending just eight overs, he also took two important wickets, both of which owed something to his gambler’s instinct to go after willing batters. It was, like many of his performances, imperfect, but not without merit. But can he do more? And maybe he should do more to keep out other contenders for the No. 8 role, especially now that Deepak Chahar is well on his way to recovery from the back injury that kept him out of IPL 2022?
It seems unlikely that the West Indies will make any changes, given how close they came to victory on Friday, with appearances from numerous members of their XI. Jason Holder will, of course, remain unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19.
West Indies (probably): 1 Shai Hope (wk), 2 Kyle Mayers, 3 Shamarh Brooks, 4 Brandon King, 5 Nicholas Pooran (capt), 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Akeal Hosein, 8 Romario Shepherd, 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Jayden Seales, 11 Gudakesh Motion.
Ravindra Jadeja sat out the first ODI with a knee injury and the BCCI has confirmed that he will also miss Sunday’s game. India doesn’t often make casual changes when a series is alive, so expect them to keep the same XI from the first ODI, although the fitness status of Axar Patel – who left the field Friday with what appeared to be a hamstring problem – is yet to be announced.
India (probably): 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Shreyas Iyer, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Sanju Samson (wk), 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Mohammed Siraj, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Prasid Krishna.
The field for the first ODI was a curious beast: flat and extraordinary for long periods, but there were also phases where scoring points was a little trickier with the old ball stopping at the batters. It resulted in an interesting game between bat and ball, and conditions should remain the same on Sunday. The weather is expected to be clear, with a maximum temperature of 31°C.