It may be 17 springs ago, but March 31, 2001 seems like yesterday. It was India v Australia in Indore, and Sachin Tendulkar, in his 259th innings, was on the verge of going where no man had ever ventured.
With the score at 77 for 1 and Shane Warne bowling his rippers in Indore, Tendulkar nonchalantly caressed a drive to long-off in the 18th over to collect his 10,000th ODI run. The great man had finally broken his generation’s golden number, and with that created a new yardstick in ODI cricket.
Virat Kohli has 9,919 runs in 204 innings. He is on the brink of absolutely pulverising Tendulkar’s record of fastest to five digits. He toyed with the West Indies attack in the first ODI, scoring a 107-ball 140 and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat the performance in the second game as well.
Devendra Bishoo and, in particular, Ashley Nurse, don’t look like wicket-takers when India are on defence. And when India are on the attack – then well, the economies of 7.2 and 9 in the first ODI paint a fairly accurate picture. Unlike Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav or Ravindra Jadeja, who provide control, guile and dot balls in the middle overs, Bishoo and Nurse were milked for runs quite comfortably.
Question marks also hover around West Indies’ batting. Yes, they did score 322 in Guwahati, but their batting performance wasn’t optimal. Kieran Powell has a List-A strike rate of 77 since 2013 and Shai Hope’s career List-A strike-rate is under 70. On flat pitches, those numbers will hurt West Indies’ eventual total, irrespective of the solidity they bring at the top. With Shimron Hetmyer, fresh off a century, and Marlon Samuels possessing the ability to keep the run-rate ticking, they could perhaps look to rejig the batting order in a bid to post totals that would actually make India work harder. They are capable of it – with Rovman Powell and Holder to cap their innings off – but they need their top order to do more.
And as for India, they will want a solution, once and for all, to the No. 4 to No. 6 conundrum. Even so, since January 2017, they have still won 50% of all ODIs where none of their top three scored a half-century.
India WWTWW (most recent first)
West Indies LLWLL
In the spotlight
India’s pace attack will be what coach Ravi Shastri and Kohli will be looking at. Mohammad Shami went at over 8 per over, while Khaleel Ahmed and Umesh Yadav had economy rates of 6.4. They failed to clean up the tail in Guwahati after their spinners had West Indies eight-down by the 44th over, and allowed Nos. 9 and 10 to add 44 runs. With India set to announce their squad for the final three ODIs after the Visakhapatnam game, this may be the last chance for the pacers to shine.
Marlon Samuels loves to play in India. He’s averages 40 in the country and smacked two hundreds the last time he visited in 2014. He’s a big-match player, as two World T20 final Man-of-the-Match awards attest, and with his team trailing 1-0, it is imperative for Samuels to hold fort through the middle overs if West Indies are to level the series.
India are unlikely to make any changes to their side, barring the possibility of Kuldeep’s return. The left-arm wristspinner, who was rested in Guwahati, dismissed Hetmyer three times in the Test series and may come in for Jadeja.
India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 MS Dhoni (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja/Kuldeep Yadav, 8 Mohammad Shami, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
West Indies have the option of using the pace of Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul or Obed McCoy – the left-arm quick – in lieu of Nurse’s offspin if they wish to reduce the number of overs bowled by the slower bowlers. Or they may choose to bring in left-arm spinner Fabian Allen for variety. Batting wise, it would be cruel to leave out Chandrapaul Hemraj after just one international outing.
West Indies (possible): 1 Chandrapaul Hemraj, 2 Kieran Powell, 3 Shai Hope (wk), 4 Shimron Hetmeyer, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Jason Holder (capt), 8 Ashley Nurse/Fabian Allen 9 Keemo Paul/Oshane Thomas/Alzarri Joseph, 10 Devendra Bishoo, 11 Kemar Roach
Pitch and conditions
Dew could be a factor since Visakhapatnam straddles India’s eastern coast, so bowling first could be the way to go. Especially considering there’s also a forecast of afternoon showers and, perhaps, a thunderstorm to follow. Pitch-wise, like always, Visakhapatnam is expected to be high scoring.
Stats and trivia
Shikhar Dhawan is 173 runs away from becoming the fastest Indian to 5,000 ODI runs
In seven ODIs at the ground, the team losing the toss has never won the game
Rohit Sharma is a solitary shot away from matching Tendulkar’s tally of 195 ODI sixes. Among Indians, only MS Dhoni (217) has more
“We’ve got a long series left, four more games, so it’s a matter for him to repeat that kind of performance regardless of whatever happens. He’s got to do what’s best for this team.”
Jason Holder believes Shimron Hetmyer is far from done in the ODI series