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First ODI against West Indies today : India firm favourites
BCCI confirms Shardul Thakur as Bhuvneshwar's replacement
Chennai : India will have their tails up whey they play West Indies in the first One-day International of the three-match rubber here on Sunday, seeking a 10th straight bilateral ODI series win against the side from the Caribbean.
Both teams will have an eye on the weather after rains in the last 24 hours. The home team will miss the services of seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, ruled out after his sportsman hernia symptoms resurfaced, and Shikhar Dhawan, who is yet to recover from the injury he suffered during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament.
Mumbai's Shardul Thakur, who plays for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, has been called up as the replacement for the injured Bhuvneshwar.
Virat Kohli's men have the momentum after winning the T20 series with a splendid batting performance in Mumbai where Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul, who is expected to continue as the opener in the absence of Dhawan, and the captain himself displayed terrific form.
It remains to be seen if the team decides to hand Mayank Agarwal a debut after he was drafted in as replacement for Dhawan.
The Karnataka batsman has been in top form in the Tests and has joined the national team after featuring in the Ranji game against Tamil Nadu in Dindigul.
Shreyas Iyer has done well in the opportunities he has received and is likely to be slotted at No. 4. Former captain Anil Kumble, too, has favoured the Mumbai player batting at No.4 in the ODI series against the the West Indies.
The position has been in the spotlight for a while now with several players being tried, including Ambati Rayudu and Vijay Shankar, and Iyer is in with a chance to make it his own.
The focus will be on wicketkeeper-batsman Rishab Pant, who has been under fire for his unimpressive performances with the bat and the big gloves.
The first ODI could be another chance for him to justify the faith shown by Kohli and the team management.
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.