Guwahati, Sunday, October 21, 2018
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Confident India take on struggling WI in series opener
Sports Reporter

Indian cricketers during their workout session ahead of the first ODI against West Indies at the ACA Stadium, Barsapara in Guwahati, on Saturday. – UB Photos
 GUWAHATI, Oct 20 - The ACA Stadium in Barsapara here will witness its maiden One-day International (ODI) tomorrow as the formidable host India will square off against struggling West Indies in the lung opener of the five-match ODI series.

As India is preparing for the 2019 World Cup, the gutsy captain Virat Kohli will definitely keep his eyes in strengthening team’s middle order putting in-form Rishabh Pant who will make his ODI debut after a stupendous show against England in the recently concluded away Test series hitting a ton in his debut series.

Veteran and most experienced MS Dhoni’s batting form is a matter of concern for the selectors as he was far from his best in the Asia Cup where he scored only 77 runs in four innings.

India will get 18 matches before the England World Cup next year during which it has to give solidity to its middle order. In the set-up which includes Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Pant, Dinesh Karthik, among others in the middle order, the focus will be definitely on the form of Dhoni who is however chief selector MSK Prasad’s first choice wicketkeeper at least till the World Cup.

The hosts certainly have a seasoned bowling attack with spinners like Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are at their best at present. They certainly have the capacity to share the workload in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, who have been rested for the first two ODIs. Rookie left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who was quite impressive in the two Asia Cup matches he played in Dubai, would like to grab the opportunity tomorrow.

On the other hand unlike the two-Test series, the West Indies will expect to be much more competitive in the ODIs. However, it will be a tough job for them as they have to get down leaving the likes of Chris Gayle and Andre Russell who have been star attractions for their side. The absence of hard hitting opener Evin Lewis will also draw a blank at the opening slot of the team which will be another blow for the Caribbean side.

Coach Stuart Law, who is into his penultimate assignment with the team, will not be allowed in the dressing room in the first two ODIs due to a breach of ICC’s code of conduct.

But with the likes of veteran Marlon Samuels, captain Jason Holder and pacer Kemar Roach the team will leave no stones unturned to turn the table on their star opponents. Three uncapped players – opener Chandrapaul Hemraj, all-rounder Fabian Allen and pacer Oshane Thomas will be seen in action tomorrow.

It will be the 17th ODI to be played in the city out of which 16 matches were played at the Nehru Stadium. Last year on October 10 the only T-20 International was organised at the ACA Stadium in Barsapara between India and Australia.

The wicket: “The Barsapara wicket will be very sporting and will be full of runs,” opined one of the curators. As there is very remote possibility of rain tomorrow, over 300 runs are possible on this wicket. The team batting first might be benefited. But considering the due factor in the second innings, the captain winning the toss may opt to bat second.

Both the captains expressed their satisfaction over the condition of the wicket and outfield who took stock of the situation after a rigorous two-hour work-out session. Optimum grass were observed on the wicket which is good for competitive cricket, said an expert.

Sourav Ganguly to arrive: Former India captain and presently president of the Cricket Association of Bengal Sourav Ganguly will arrive here tomorrow to watch the match as a guest along with Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his cabinet colleagues. Ganguly will also release the souvenir, being published to mark the occasion.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, K Khaleel Ahmed, Lokesh Rahul, Umesh Yadav.

West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Fabian Allen, Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Oshane Thomas and Obed McCoy.

Match starts at 1.30pm.

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