The Indian squad, who are eyeing their 10th straight bilateral One-day International series win against West Indies, will be alert and ready to give whatever it takes in the first ODI of the three-match series starting in Chennai on Sunday (December 15).
After the city being lashed with rains in the last 24 hours, both the teams will watch out for the weather and how it changes the dynamics of the game.
The hosts, who are the firm favourites to win the series, will be missing out on their best men seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is out with a groin problem and opener Shikhar Dhawan, who is still recovering from his knee injury suffered during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament.
The Chennai Super Kings players – Shardul Thakur has been named the replacement for Kumar whereas KL Rahul will be opening the batting with Rohit Sharma in place of Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal will be entering the team as a replacement for the Indian southpaw.
Skipper Virat Kohli and team who are fresh after winning the T20 Internationals series against the Carribean side will be entering the tournament with splendid batting performances in Mumbai from Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and the captain himself.
What will be interesting to see is if the team management will let Agarwal have his debut game in Chennai since his form in the Tests has been top-notch.
India’s spin legend Anil Kumble wanted Shreyas Iyer to play at the crucial position of number 4 and whenever given an opportunity he has done well in the same spot. So he is likely to be slotted in the top-order.
The home side have tried several players at this position for a while now, including Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar, and this could be Iyer’s perfect chance to make the cut.
Much focus will be on wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who has visibly been not able to perform with bat and behind the stumps. The first ODI could be another chance for the Delhi boy to justify the faith skipper Kohli and the team members have shown in him.
It will be interesting to see if the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav reunite after last playing together in the World Cup, as the Chepauk surface is expected to aid the slow bowlers.
The experienced Mohammed Shami and Deepak Chahar will most probably form the pace attack and would face a stern test against the aggressive West Indies batting line-up.
The visitors will be hoping that big-hitting opener Evin Lewis, who suffered an injury while fielding in the Mumbai T20, will be able to play a part in the ODI leg of the tour. Team officials said he was being assessed ahead of the series opener.
The Windies batsmen have had a lot of success in the T20s thanks to their ultra-aggressive approach but ODIs will be a different ball game and as assistant coach Roddy Estwick stated the batters need to focus on rotating the strike, which they did well in the series against Afghanistan recently.
The onus will be on the WI batsmen to not only go on attack mode first up but also keep wickets in hand to accelerate in the back-end.
Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran have showed their abilities in the shortest format and need to display the same in the 50-overs game too if the West Indies hopes to give India a run in this series.
All-rounder Roston Chase is likely to figure in the XI and could provide some stability to the line-up boasting of several power-hitters.
Skipper Kieron Pollard, who has a rather modest record in the ODIs, will have to lead by example and provide the thrust in the slog overs.
Sheldon Cottrell will lead the Caribbean bowling attack and will need to strike early if the team hopes to restrict a formidable Indian batting unit with Rohit, Kohli and Rahul in ominous form. The other pacers including former captain Jason Hoder will have to step up as would the spinners.
Leggie Hayden Walsh Jr bowled well in the T20s and has a big task at hand to contain Kohli & Co, known to be adept at tackling spinners.
An intriguing battle is on hand with the Indian team favourite to add the ODI series to the T20 win but the unpredictable West Indies can spring a surprise or two.
Heavy overnight rain meant India’s training session on the eve of the opener was called off.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Shivam Dube, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur.
West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Sunil Ambris, Shai Hope, Khary Pierre, Roston Chase, Alzarri Joseph, Sheldon Cottrell, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Romario Shepherd, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Hayden Walsh Jr.
Match starts at 1.30 pm.