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India seek respite in Caribbean sojourn

Wisden India logo Wisden India 23-06-2017 Wisden India staff

India's last tour to the Caribbean, in July-August 2016, was Anil Kumble's first assignment as head coach of the national team. Twelve months on, despite achieving a lot of success across all formats under him, India have returned to the West Indies, but without Kumble.

A lot has been said and written about the tiff between Virat Kohli, the Indian captain, and Kumble, which led to the latter stepping down from his position after the Champions Trophy. A large chunk of the cricket fraternity even labeled the five-match One-Day International series and the one-off Twenty20 International against West Indies as unnecessary workload on the players, but given the circumstances, it is probably the best chance for the players to keep their minds off the drama brewing back home.

FULL COVERAGE: INDIA VS WEST INDIES

India go into the series, which kicks off with the first ODI on Friday (June 23), as clear favourites, with West Indies having been troubled by even tenth-ranked Afghanistan in a recently concluded limited-overs series. Jason Holder and Co. managed to win the T20I series 3-0, but shared the ODI trophy with Afghanistan after the final was washed out with a scoreline of 1-1.

Lack of experience has haunted West Indies for a long time now. The 13-member squad selected to play India boasts of just 213 ODI caps, with Holder being the most-capped with 58 matches. In contrast, the trio of Yuvraj Singh (301), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (291) and Virat Kohli (184) collectively boast of  776 ODI caps.

India have rested Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma for this series, replacing the duo with Kuldeep Yadav and Rishabh Pant who joined the team in London before flying across the Atlantic Ocean to Port of Spain in Trinidad.

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That could mean an opportunity for Mohammed Shami, who -- despite being part of the Champions Trophy squad -- did not get a single game in the campaign. Shami, in fact, hasn't played an ODI since the 2015 World Cup semifinal against Australia as he has mostly been in and out of rehabilitation due to his knee problems, though he took part in several Test matches and a few Indian Premier League games.

Rohit Sharma's absence could prompt Kohli to try out Ajinkya Rahane at the top of the order, though he has struggled with his form of late. If, however, India go with a more aggressive approach, Pant could make his ODI debut, given his ability of making good use of the Power Play overs when only two fielders are outside the 30-yard circle.

The fact that West Indies have struggled a lot against Rashid Khan, the Afghanistan legspinner, might tempt the Indian think tank to give Kuldeep, the chinaman, a chance in place of either R Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja, but that will also depend a great deal on the kind of strip that's prepared at the Queen's Park Oval. The hosts will rely on Shai Hope to rack up the runs like he has in various situations in recent times, but the rest of the unit will need to support him if West Indies are to prevail. The bowling department looks more stable, with Ashley Nurse and Shanon Gabriel doing most of the damage against Afghanistan.

Though the coming week promises a forecast of heavy rains across the region, Friday is expected to be a clear day with the temperature ranging between 26-30°C.

Squads (from)

India: Virat Kohli Capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Umesh Yadav

West Indies: Jason Holder (Capt), Jonathan Carter, Miguel Cummins, Alzarri Joseph, Jason Mohammed, Kieran Powell, Kesrick Williams, Devendra Bishoo, Roston Chase, Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell

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