Having surrendered their Champions Trophy title in London on Sunday, India will be looking for a quick means of redemption. The loss against Pakistan in the final has already sent shockwaves across the nation and that can only be taken care of by a great outing in the Caribbean. To add to that Caylpso challenge, the men in blue also battle the mental blues, surrounding the sudden resignation of coach Anil Kumble, with reports of a serious rift with skipper Virat Kohli coming in.
On Friday though, when India get down at Trinidad to take on the hosts, the blueprint for the 2019 World Cup would provide a clear insight of what to expect. That’s precisely why the likes of Rishab Pant and Kuldeep Yadav have been taken among the touring party. It will be interesting to see though, what will be the team’s composition for the first ODI at Port of Spain.
Below, we have a look at the likely Indian XI for the first game.
- Shikhar Dhawan:
Having won the Golden Bat in England barley a week ago, Dhawan will be itching to carry on his rich vein on form in the humid conditions of the Caribbean. The southpaw has toured West Indies thrice with the Indian team, in 2011, 2013 and 2016, thus he can be expected to be in verse with the conditions.
- Rishabh Pant:
One can expect Delhi’s wonder boy Rishabh Pant to make his ODI debut in the first ODI. Termed as the most exciting prospect in the Indian domestic circuit, no adjectives are enough to portray how lethal this southpaw can get. Pant has lit up the IPL in the past and this series should be an ideal test for him. A good outing here would definitely cement his spot for the future assignments.
- Virat Kohli (c):
There will be no person other than Kohli who would be agonized post that loss to Pakistan. With speculation surrounding his attitude, the Indian captain would want to play a blinder to ensure that all the talk takes the back seat. His record in the Caribbean has been quite good and being the run machine he is, don’t be surprised if he takes off from the very offset.
- Yuvraj Singh:
According to former greats, time isn’t a luxurious commodity for Yuvraj Singh. Being on the wrong side of 30, age isn’t a factor in this legend’s arsenal. With question marks being raised over his future with the Indian team and keeping in mind the next World Cup, only an impressive performance will help Yuvraj.
- MS Dhoni (wk):
Dhoni didn’t have a memorable Champions Trophy personally and like Yuvraj, he too is well under the scanner. Not being the captain anymore, Dhoni is expected to express himself freely without the burden of leadership. Fair to say though, till now fans haven’t seen Dhoni doing that. The series against West Indies however, offers an ideal opportunity for the former Indian captain to get back to form.
- Kedar Jadhav:
Termed as the best finisher in India by a mile, Jadhav will be critical in India’s plans for the next World Cup. The Maharashtra batsman has been a regular member of the team since last October and his role is well defined. On the slow and low tracks of the West Indies, Jadhav’s part time off spin will become extremely crucial.
- Hardik Pandya:
The only positive news about Sunday was the intent and courage shown by this talented all rounder. The knock played by Pandya against Pakistan was nothing short of something extremely heroic as he alone stood out. The Baroda all rounder is surely the man for the future and can be a genuine match winner in the time to follow.
- Ravindra Jadeja:
With a poor last couple of years in ODI’s, its fair to assert that Jadeja is looking bleak as a bowler. At best, his slow left arm offers just a defensive option to the team of containing the opposition, and on tracks that don’t assist him, he looks extremely ineffective. Its high time that he strikes form in the Caribbean.
- Kuldeep Yadav:
Apart from Pant, an Indian cap could also be handed out to chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav. Yadav has already played a test for India and it was his magical spell which made the difference in the mentioned game. Being a wrist spinner, he is a genuine wicket taker and that was evident in the warm up game against England in January. He offers far more than R. Ashwin as a wicket taking option.
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar:
The last time India played an ODI series in this part of the globe, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the Man of the Series for his magical bowling. Having enjoyed a great Champions Trophy personally, Kumar’s early strikes will be critical to India’s chances.
- Mohammad Shami:
The move to bench Shami for all the games in the event gone by, despite taking wickets in the warm up games, was as senseless a decision as it can get. The move backfired as India lacked a genuine wicket taker who could penetrate through the ranks with his sheer pace and accuracy. It’s a no brainer to say that Shami walks back into the playing XI.