The decade is coming to an end. It is apt that India will be bidding to win their 10th straight bilateral ODI series against West Indies when the first match takes place at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on Sunday. West Indies last won a series against India in the Caribbean in 2006 while their last win in India came way back in 2002 when they won the seven-match series 4-3. Out of the 10 ODIs that have taken place between India and West Indies recently, India have won seven, lost one, one game was a no-result while one was a tie in Vizag.
A win in Chennai will be special for the Indian cricket team. It will be the first time in their cricketing history that India will have a positive head-to-head record against the West Indies in ODIs. For India, the top order is once again the crux around which India will be aiming to dominate. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul will be aiming to once again pile on the runs. With Shikhar Dhawan ruled out of the series, Mayank Agarwal will be aiming to get an opportunity and stamp a mark like he has done in Tests.
Shreyas Iyer will be the key at the tricky No.4 position but all eyes will once again be on Rishabh Pant, who failed in the Twenty20 International series. For the visitors, they gave a glimpse of the power-hitting with the likes of Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer and Kieron Pollard clearing the boundaries as well. However, West Indies assistant coach focused on rotation of strike as the key in ensuring West Indies put up a fight. In the previous series, Hetmyer countered the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal well and he will be determined to do it again for the West Indies.
Pant's failures seem to be the only sore point in India's dominance. The bowling has been dealt a blow with Bhuvneshwar Kumar ruled out due to injury and Shardul Thakur being drafted into the side. The fast-bowling hopes are pinned on Mohammed Shami and he will be the key along with Deepak Chahar.
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. Roston Chase is likely to figure in the XI and could provide some stability to the line-up boasting of several power-hitters. 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.
Weather and pitch
With the North-East Monsoon season beginning, Chennai could receive rain. On match day, there are chances of 10 percent chances of rain but it is expected to stay away. The pitch has been known to be a slow and low deck which could assist the spinners as the game progresses. In the last five encounters at Chepauk, India have lost only once and that was in 2012 against Pakistan on a pitch which had moisture and movement. The rain in the build-up to the match could give some assistance to the pacers.