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While the main news surrounding Indian cricket continues to be the fractious break-up between coach Anil Kumble and skipper Virat Kohli, and the aftermath of the resignation of the former, India-s rainy dates with Queen-s Park Oval in Port of Spain is set to continue. If the fourth Test last year between India and the hosts ended in a stalemate with the last four days yielding no play due to a wet outfield - making it the third shortest Test match ever with 22 overs being bowled - 39.2 overs were possible in the opening One Day International on Friday (June 24). If the weather predictions are anything to go by, Sunday-s game too could end as a damp squib with thunderstorms forecast for the morning and afternoon, with an 80 percent chance of showers.
The teams cannot do anything about the weather but they could use the opportunity, however limited it may be, to test the fledgling players in their line-ups and plan for the future. India tried to do that in the opening ODI by handing Kuldeep Yadav his ODI debut, only to see the youngster confined to the comforts of the dressing room because the visitors didn-t get a chance to bowl.
Shikhar Dhawan continued from where he left off at the Champions Trophy and Ajinkya Rahane proved that he can be a solid option at the top of the order in the absence of Rohit Sharma, as the batsmen followed the familiar design associated with Indian ODI cricket in recent times - get off to a steady start sans any flashiness, keep wickets in hand and go full throttle in the death overs.
What resulted was a fifth successive fifty-plus stand for Dhawan and Rahane, and only the third century stand for India in West Indies, setting the visiting team nicely for a flourishing end to their innings. However, quick wickets followed by persistent rain, meant that India could not find out whether they had the ideal conclusion. But during the time that play was possible, they did witness another failure for Yuvraj Singh, who has been blowing hot and cold in the last few months.
With an eye on the future, India could look at giving flamboyant left-hander Rishabh Pant a go, to see if he can infuse some urgency in the overs leading up the the death and make for a fresh perspective that could set a new template for India-s limited-overs cricket, with the 50-over World Cup in two years time.
For Windies, the bid to keep their hopes alive for a direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup took a beating with the wash-out. They are still in with a chance, albeit a slim one - considering that they have to beat India in the remaining matches and hope for Sri Lanka to lose their upcoming series to Zimbabwe to move up in the rankings. With no more series scheduled for Windies, apart from the current one against India, before the cut-off period, it is a daunting task for Jason Holder-s team, whose best result in an ODI series since 2016 is a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan.
The hosts, however, would take heart from the fact that they made India sweat ahead of the death overs by picking up quick wickets and also managing to keep their skipper quiet. Devendra Bishoo-s inclusion did them a world of good while the Windies captain too came up with an economical performance. A disciplined show with the ball is what Windies will be hoping for in the second game, while praying that the batsmen, who have hardly made an impact in the last couple of years, pull their socks up.
When: Sunday, June 25 at 9:00 AM Local Time (6:30 PM IST)
Where: Queen-s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad
What to expect: Thundershowers are predicted and it won-t come as a surprise if this game too yields no result. The pitch for the first ODI was on the slower side and it is expected to be the same for this match.
The hosts are unlikely to make a change to the eleven that featured in the last game. India, meanwhile, could look at giving Pant an opportunity, which might come at the expense of Yuvraj.
What They Said:
"For a tournament like the World Cup, you have to recognise the 15 who will be playing. So from a pool of 25 you can look at different players at different stages, who is going to perform better at pressure stages, We have to try and address these things as a team." - Virat Kohli.
Windies: Evin Lewis, Kieran Powell, Shai Hope (wk), Jason Mohammed, Roston Chase, Jonathan Carter, Jason Holder (c), Ashley Nurse, Devendra Bishoo, Alzarri Joseph, Miguel Cummins, Rovman Powell, Kesrick Williams
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli (c), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Shami, Dinesh Karthik