India look to continue domination over West Indies
After demolishing the West Indies in Sachin Tendulkar's emotionally draining farewell Test series, the Indian cricket team will look to extend its supremacy in the ODIs as well when the two sides face off in a three-match series starting in Kochi on Thursday.
The 2-0 whitewash against the Caribbean outfit was the perfect send off for the legendary Tendulkar, who called it quits after serving Indian cricket for nearly a quarter of a century.
The emotional curtain call left everyone, including the man of the moment, in tears even taking the focus away from the cricket that was played.
The epic farewell is now behind them and the Indians would try and ensure that it is just cricket that is talked about now.
The home side already deserves credit for keeping itself focussed on the game in the Tests despite the frenzy surrounding Tendulkar's retirement.
Image: Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni
The Indians start firm favourites
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men were clinical, to say the least, in the way they went about their business in the Test series, taking full advantage of the West Indians' shabby show to wrap up two Tests in a matter of five days.
The Indians start firm favourites in the shorter format too with a batting line-up, which is in intimidatingly good form.
Combining Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dahawn in the opening slots has proved to be a masterstroke so far with both scoring heavily in India's last ODI assignment -- the seven-match series against Australia.
In fact, Rohit joined the all-Indian club of ODI double-centurions in the last match of that series, smashing a 158-ball 209, which included a record 16 sixes.
At number three, India has another aggressor in Virat Kohli, who would be keen to carry on with the fine form. The middle-order has a solid look to it with the likes of Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni himself.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan
India has another aggressor in Virat Kohli
Of these, Yuvraj would be keen to make his mark after a rather extended ordinary run with the bat.
In the bowling department, Mohammed Shami would be the one to watch out for as he seeks to be India's newest pace hope after the steady decline of senior pro Zaheer Khan, who has been denied a central contract by the BCCI this year.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, an IPL find, and Jaydev Unadkat complete the pace quartet for India with R Ashwin and Amit Mishra manning the spin department.
Ravindra Jadeja will return to the side after missing the Tests to nurse a shoulder niggle.
Image: Virat Kohli
The challenge is bigger for West Indies
For the West Indies, the challenge could not have been bigger after the Test mauling. Darren Sammy would make way for all-rounder Dwayne Bravo as captain of the side and the visitors would hope to restore some of the lost pride by coming good in the shorter format.
The one man who would hold the key to their fortunes and provide much-needed spark is without doubt the dashing Chris Gayle.
Gayle had a nightmarish outing in the Tests and was hardly noticeable. The big-hitting batsman would hope to make his presence felt in the ODIs.
A lot would also be expected from the likes of Kieran Powell, Narsingh Deonarine, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin.
Image: West Indies team practises
West Indies' ODI form has been poor of late
Given that batting was one area which significantly let the team down during the Tests, the West Indians would do well to sort it out to avoid another thrashing.
They are already without big-hitting all-rounder Kieran Pollard, who had to return home due to an injury.
The bowling, led by pacer Lendl Simmons, is in for a tough time as containing Indian batting on the dustbowl home pitches would be a huge ask.
West Indies' ODI form has been poor of late, with only seven wins in 20 matches this year. Their record away from home is even worse, with five losses in as many games this year. Their last ODI series win was against Zimbabwe in February.
In their previous series in India, the West Indies had lost 1-4. So, they would have to raise their game by several notches in every department to have any chance against the rampaging Indians.
Image: Darren Sammy