It is common knowledge that Chennai gets a lot of rain in December. Yet, here we are trying to squeeze in an ODI, when two more T20Is would've brought in more context with the World Cup just around the corner. Ironical as it may be, we could well have a curtailed game veering towards the T20s if the weather, which forced India to call off their optional nets on Friday and West Indies on Saturday, continues to remain fickle.
India have not played ODIs for a while. Their last 50-over series came in the Caribbean, well remembered for that audacious Virat Kohli shot, where he opened up the off-side and carved a short of length delivery on the up for six over extra cover while being off balance. It even had Sir Viv Richards admiring the shot in awe. If you don't remember the scoreline of the series, though, or any other detail, well, you would be forgiven.
West Indies have the benefit of having played a good amount of white-ball cricket on tour, even before the T20I series. They whitewashed Afghanistan 3-0 in the ODI series in Lucknow to begin Kieron Pollard's captaincy era on a promising note. So far, West Indies have made all the right noises, both in terms of their squad selection as well as administrative intent to become a formidable force once again. This ODI series is another opportunity to build forward.
India WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
KL Rahul is in one day, out the next. He is opening one day, at No. 4 the next. There hasn't been much clarity about his role in the white-ball set up. With Shikhar Dhawan injured, this is Rahul's best chance to settle the debate by making big runs. It will be of massive help to him that he is coming into the series on the back of a Man-of-the-Match-winning performance in the third T20I.
He has been mistaken to be the son of Courtney Walsh, but if he bowled anywhere like he did in the Caribbean Premier League - where he picked up 22 wickets in nine games - Hayden Walsh will likely carve an identity of his own. He cannot ask for better spin-friendly tracks than Chennai and Cuttack to make a splash. His three ODIs against Afghanistan didn't bring him a rich haul, but there were shades of promise.
Mayank Agarwal may have to wait for his ODI debut, but Shivam Dube could earn his. There could be a toss-up between Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja.
India: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Shivam Dube, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Mohammed Shami
Ewin Lewis has a soft-tissue injury on his knee, so he's likely to be assessed. With their net session on match eve called off, it's unlikely they'll want to risk him straightaway. For now, he'll remain with the squad. Sunil Ambris or Brandon King could come in for Lewis at the top of the order.
West Indies: 1 Sunil Ambris, 2 Shai Hope, 3 Roston Chase, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Romario Shephard, 8 Kharry Pierre, 9 Hayden Walsh, 10 Keemo Paul, 11 Alzarri Joseph
Pitch and conditions
Rains for two days in the build-up to the ODI have forced the groundstaff to cover the pitch right through. There hasn't been much sunshine either. That said, the spinners won't mind bowling on what is traditionally a good deck for them. India made 281 in the previous ODI here, in September 2017, with Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav picking five Australian wickets in a truncated chase to win the game.
Stats and Trivia
Virat Kohli has more runs against West Indies in just half the number of games of his nearest competitor. For long, Javed Miandad led the runs rally with 1930 runs in 64 innings. Kohli has already racked up 2146 runs in just 35 innings. In his last nine innings alone, he's made six hundreds and 870 runs at an average of 174.
Shai Hope has had a phenomenal last two years as an ODI batsman, averaging 60.54 in 41 innings, with six centuries and 10 half-centuries. This is significantly higher than his overall average of 50.63. However, his strike-rate hovers around 76 in this period, which is far below the norm in ODIs these days. He may want to press on a lot earlier, to avoid putting too much pressure on the big hitters to follow.
"The reason why we keep discussing [about] him [Rishabh Pant] is that he has got immense ability. Everybody believes he can be an X-factor. All of us believe he is a good player who can come good."
India's batting coach Vikram Rathour
"Yes, playing in the IPL augurs well financially and experience-wise, but it is not something which should be at the forefront of your minds in order to succeed."
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard