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West Indies v India 2022

Four selection dilemmas for India ahead of the West Indies ODI series

by Sarah Waris 5 minute read

India will take on West Indies for a three-match ODI series from July 22 in the Caribbean.

India will be led by Shikhar Dhawan after a number of senior players, including regular skipper Rohit Sharma, were rested for the ODIs. The 16-member squad features Shubman Gill, who is making a comeback to the white-ball set-up, while Arshdeep Singh has been given his maiden ODI call-up.

India’s squad for the ODI series: Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Ravindra Jadeja (vice-captain), Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd Siraj, Arshdeep Singh.

Who will be the second opener?

Dhawan, who has not been a part of the recent T20I teams, however, has been persisted with in ODIs with an eye on the 50-over World Cup next year. Since the start of 2021, the left-hander averages 47 in the format at the top of the order and is a certainty to open the innings against West Indies.

A dilemma remains over his batting partner, though: the side has Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Gill, all talented stars. Kishan has played three ODIs so far but is stronger suited for the T20Is. India might also not go ahead with two left-handed openers, but if he plays, he could settle the debate over the wicketkeeper in the XI, with India not picking a straightforward gloveman in the squad.

Gill, who had been picked for high praise by former India captain Virat Kohli, has played only three ODIs for India, the last appearance coming in 2020. While Gill regularly makes it to the Test squad, India might be tempted to try out the vastly talented youngster in foreign conditions as they begin shortlisting the players for the World Cup in 2023.

Gaikwad, however, is the strongest candidate to make the side and make his ODI debut. The CSK batter has played nine T20Is, but the 50-over format promises to fetch him more success. Gaikwad looks to start off cautiously before playing his strokes and has a List A average of 54.73 after 64 matches, indicating his ease.

Who makes the middle order?

If Kishan does not make the team as an opener, India will have to accommodate Sanju Samson in the XI as the wicketkeeper. Samson has played one ODI in his career when he batted at No.3 and could come out at the spot again in West Indies.

With Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda and Suryakumar Yadav also in the squad, India’s middle-order looks strong but playing all of them together will drastically reduce India’s bowling depth as no one from of India’s top six is a regular bowler. The five selected bowlers, then, will have to be at the top of the game throughout and cannot afford an off-day, which is a tall task.

If they pick an extra bowler, India will have to make a choice between Hooda and Iyer, with Suryakumar a certainty in the playing line-up. Iyer did not get a chance to bat in the one ODI he played against England recently but has been around for a long time. Hooda’s recent run of form, where he also became the fourth India batter to score a T20I ton, however, could tilt the balance in his favour.

Ravindra Jadeja at No.6 and Shardul Thakur to follow would then be the XI.

Do India go in with four seamers or three spinners?

Since the start of 2019, spinners average 29.39 in ODIs in West Indies, picking up 127 wickets in 23 matches. In the same period, fast bowlers average 32.45 with a higher economy rate than the slower bowlers. In the last 12 months, the spinners average 20.34 in the country, with the faster bowlers averaging a slightly higher 26.48.

The greater success rate of the spinners could force India to also field Axar Patel in the side, alongside Yuzvendra Chahal and Jadeja. Patel has played 38 ODIs so far, picking up 45 wickets and his presence also boosts the batting depth. If India play four seamers, with Shardul Thakur as the fourth quick, they will go in with Nos 8-11 who cannot be relied upon with the bat at any cost, which could prove to be a risk.

Who constitutes the pace attack?

In a troop of youngsters, Prasidh Krishna is expected to lead the fast bowling attack, having impressed in his ten-match career, where he has taken 20 wickets. Mohammed Siraj, who has made rapid strides in Test cricket, has not had the same success in ODIs, playing only five games since making his debut in 2019. He recently played against England in Manchester, picking up two wickets, but blew hot-and-cold through his spell, eventually conceding 66 runs. The side would be looking to add Thakur in the mix – his experience, coupled with his ability to prise out wickets in the middle phases – could be of benefit for a young side.

Arshdeep presents a strong case for selection: a left-armer, he brings variety into the attack. He can nail the yorkers at the death to perfection and ended with an economy rate of 7.91 in the last five overs in the 2022 IPL. The 23-year-old recently made his T20I debut against England, ending the game with 2-18, which helped him earn an ODI call-up. Avesh Khan is yet to make his ODI debut as well, but he is another talented young fast bowler India could be looking to try.

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