After a more competitive T20 series than the eventual scoreline suggested, West Indies and India embark on their first ODI matches since their World Cup failures on Thursday when the two sides meet in the first of three 50 over contests.
Guyana is the stage for the first of these games, the same venue as the final T20 match was played on earlier in the week. India won that match, as they did the ODI between the two at the World Cup last month so they are favourites for this one.
It looked like West Indies were going to be massive runners in the World Cup after the way they opened up the tournament and while they suffered a couple of unlucky defeats after that, they were never really at the races, and the longer the tournament went on the worse they got, ending the campaign in abject disappointment. They have another chance to show that they are better than that here.
During the World Cup their bowlers offered up the goods in the main, although they were given all the assistance they needed in that event and they might not be afforded the same luxury here. That means their batsmen are going to have to stand up and be counted, something they rarely were over in England. There is a serious amount of talent in their line up though so we would be foolish to write them off too soon.
There is no doubt that India left the World Cup with it being a disappointing tournament for them, despite them dominating it right up until the semi-final. They were that team who found out the hard way that it doesn’t matter how good you look in the pressure-free group stage if you don’t turn up in the knockout stages. They will be out to prove their class in this format of the game once again in this series.
India’s batsmen let them down in that semi-final but history would tell us that is a rarity. In conditions which might well suit them more out in Guyana, that unit are likely to produce the goods so if their bowlers avoid running into one of those special innings that the West Indians can provide at any moment then the tourists should be confident of picking up with a win.
Chris Gayle has done a U-turn on retiring after the World Cup so he is expected to play in this first ODI. The spin option was a concern for West Indies in England and it could be that Roston Chase shares those duties with Gayle to allow them to play five seamers.
India have a few decisions to make on the setup of their side. It would appear that Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav and Shreyas Iyer are battling for one spot with the bat. Ravi Jadeja appears a lock of a pick so Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal could be battling for one spot too.
I’ll ease my way into this series for a couple of reasons. Obviously this is the first time the two have played 50 over cricket since the World Cup and also Providence is not my favourite ground to bet at given the nature of the wicket which can be a little turgid. I do still think we’ll see plenty of sixes in this match though. India’s batsmen will be out to prove a point here while West Indies deal largely in sixes. The line for this match is 11.5 which looks a touch on the low side. We’ve seen three big hitting T20 matches between these two and you wouldn’t say any of them were particularly high scoring. Given the points the batsmen have to prove here I expect the sixes to flow.
Shimron Hetmyer didn’t have a good World Cup and he was just as bad in the recent T20 series between these two but he is so much better than that so this is a big series for him. I expect him to deliver the goods at some point in these three matches, and it could be that this slightly slower track is the one he’ll go big on. This is his home ground so he’ll know how the wicket plays. He is 6/1 to be the leading West Indies batsman in this match but that looks a shade too big. He will score quicker than anyone so as long as Gayle doesn’t go bonkers at the top there is enough mileage to merit a bet here.
VOID – Back Over 11.5 sixes for a 4/10 stake at 1.90 with 888sport
VOID – Back S.Hetmyer Top West Indies Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 7.00 with Coral