The first ODI in Barbados lasted all of 45.5 overs. What did we really learn from Thursday’s fixture? Nothing new. Despite the absence of a number of a senior seamers, India skittled West Indies for 114. They were so dominant that they didn’t need Virat Kohli with the bat. They barely needed Rohit Sharma with the bat. They could afford to demote Kohli to No.8 and bump Shardul Thakur up to No.6.
As for West Indies, their freefall continues. On a track that had some juice for both seamers and spinners, their batters struggled. They continue to drop catches, something that cost them a spot in the 2023 ODI World Cup. They also have to contend with the unavailability of key players. Hours after West Indies were blasted out by India in Barbados, Nicholas Pooran led MI New York past Washington Freedom in Dallas in the MLC Eliminator. Left-arm fingerspinner Akeal Hosein was in action for Washington in the same match. Alzarri Joseph is available for West Indies selection, but the team management had opted to rest him in the first ODI and manage his workload.
At the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, coach Daren Sammy insisted that he had inherited this squad. This is now his chance to leave an imprint. Sammy has successfully rehabilitated St Lucia Kings in the CPL, but it won’t be as easy doing the same with an international cricket team, especially in the middle of a series against India. In the absence of Pooran, it’s up to Shimron Hetmyer to step up and counter India’s left-arm spinners.
For India, the second ODI is another opportunity to shake things up in the lead-up to the World Cup. Will Sanju Samson get a look in? Can Umran Malik slot into Prasidh Krishna’s role as the enforcer in the middle overs? Can India also fit Yuzvendra Chahal in their XI and reunite him with Kuldeep Yadav?
West Indies LLWLL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first) India WLLWW
There’s a lot to like about Alick Athanaze. He has a solid technique, can play some fluid drives, and is also sharp in the slip cordon. More runs against India, this time in ODIs, and in the following CPL, where he is set to make his debut for Barbados Royals, could potentially make him the new face of a West Indies side that is in transition.
India are also in transition and in the absence of Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar made his ODI debut and came away with the wicket of Athanaze. In the longest format, Mukesh can relentlessly probe away outside off, and can similarly test batters outside off in white-ball cricket. But that doesn’t mean he’s a one trick pony. He can nail yorkers with the old ball, something that was on display during his first IPL stint with Delhi Capitals earlier this year.
With Rovman Powell particularly vulnerable to wristspin – and spin in general – West Indies might consider bringing in Keacy Carty, who has innings construction – and reconstruction – skills in ODI cricket. With Joseph’s workload being managed and with Jayden Seales just making his way back from knee surgery, Oshane Thomas could get a game at some point in this series.
Samson’s exclusion was the major talking point in the ODI series opener. It remains to be seen if India can find room for him in their XI and give him a decent run in the lead-up to the home World Cup.
Both Rohit and Shai Hope were surprised by how the Barbados track played on Thursday. The seamers got encouraging carry while the spinners extracted turn – even with the new ball. If the same pitch is rolled out on Saturday, both teams could consider playing an extra spinner. The weather didn’t interrupt the first match, but the forecast for the second is gloomier, with 50% chance of rain.