India enter the ODIs as favourites © Getty Images
India enter the ODIs as favourites © Getty Images

West Indies, once the top-ranked and now the underdogs, were just mere spectators of ICC Champions Trophy 2017. While most of their full-member peers were busy in the race to claim an ICC title, West Indies, failing to qualify, instead played a series of three T20Is and three ODIs against Afghanistan. However, this time the challenge is nowhere comparable to their previous series, as the opponents are India, the runners-up of a flagship tournament they were not part of. As the two teams engage themselves in the first of the five ODIs, here are the key battles. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: WI vs IND, 1st ODI

Shai Hope vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar: With a 35 and a 48*, Hope looked to be the most promising among the otherwise stuttering West Indies batting line-up. After impressing all and sundry with his performance in the domestic circuit, Hope has earned his place in the squad and is now the pillar of the top-order. Bhuvneshwar, who is known to produce swing in the most difficult conditions, will be a threat to the batsman, especially with the new ball. In addition, he was one of the finest pacers in the Champions Trophy.

Virat Kohli vs Jason Holder: There are always those players whose wickets are the most precious to the team. Then there is the opponent captain’s wicket. In India’s case, both are the same. Kohli, undoubtedly, is the most accomplished batsman in the Indian eleven right now, and who better to take his wicket than the captain Jason Holder himself. Holder, an experienced pacer and leader, knows Kohli’s weaknesses well. He will try to frustrate Kohli by bowling more deliveries outside off-stump and induce an edge for the slip cordon to fetch.

Roston Chase vs Ravichandran Ashwin: Ashwin has been India’s go-to spinner, albeit there is Ravindra Jadeja in the ranks, for his knack of taking vital wickets. Even on the batsman-friendly tracks in the Caribbean, one will expect Ashwin to find some turn and topple the batsmen who are not used to facing his mastery. And his ideal prey will be Roston Chase.

Chase was a perfect find after his domestic heroics and did well on debut, but has lately failed to emulate his genius. Against Afghanistan, to spinner Rashid Khan, he terribly failed. He will be nervous due to his lean patch, and Ashwin will be the toughest for him to tackle.

Yuvraj Singh vs Alzarri Joseph: Yuvraj, the warhorse, does not look as destructive as he was in his best days. He has had a problem with change is pace and surprising bouncers. For that, West Indies have their short-ball specialist Alzarri Joseph, who got all his three wickets in the Afghanistan ODIs with chin music.

West Indies vs form: The champions of ICC World T20 2016 have failed to pull off any heroics since. Their last ODI series victory came in 2014, and this series against India will be their big fight to get back into form and reinstate themselves as one of the strongest teams of the format again. India, brimming with confidence after back-to-back impressive performances, will be a tough team for them to beat, but then, cricket is a game of uncertainties.