Suresh Raina has been in scintillating form with the bat © Getty Images
Suresh Raina has been in scintillating form with the bat © Getty Images

The focus of the Indian audience quickly shifts from the Champions League T20 2014 to the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series against West Indies. With the selectors picking a 14-member squad, the skipper and the team management have a little less dilemma over picking the playing XI. Abhijit Banare looks at India’s likely combination in the first ODI against West Indies at Kochi.

Batting: As we come back to playing at home, the combination seems perfectly in place. There’s hardly any scope for surprises with a small squad and familiar faces already in place. In the absence of Rohit Sharma, and a little success of a new opening pair in England, Ajinkya Rahane-Shikhar Dhawan combo are set to open the batting. Anyone who can’t predict India’s No 3 by now might have been oblivious to Indian cricket for a couple of years at least. After Virat Kohli comes India’s man in form, Suresh Raina. Yes Ambati Rayudu was the preferred option in England, but with the confidence Raina is in, he seems to be the man to hold the innings together.

Rayudu precedes the big-hitter MS Dhoni followed by Ravindra Jadeja. The top seven in the batting make for a concrete set-up, each of them efficient enough to score big in Indian conditions. Read the preview of the 1st ODI here

Bowling: The only minor changes appear on this front. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami seem certainties in the pace bowling option. This leaves two more spots empty considering the top seven and two pacers mentioned earlier. Mohit Sharma has been Dhoni’s preferred seamer for third pacer spot. In the spin department, leggie Amit Mishra could team up with Jadeja. With young chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in his early days, it’ unlikely that he would be exposed early in the series. With three seamers and two spinners, Dhoni has five bowlers and has the part-time option of Raina.  Though Rayudu, Kohli and Dhawan can bowl, but they haven’t been usual of the part-time options. Dhoni could still face the heat of lack of resources if his regular bowlers go for runs. The recent records at home aren’t encouraging either.

On the bench: The two Yadav’s – Umesh and Kuldeep – along with Murali Vijay are likely to remain on the bench. Early in the series, a tried and tested combination is often considered a safe option than taking unnecessary risks. Read the stats review of West Indies in ODIs in India.

Changes: India last played an ODI in England where they wanted to give a few chances to others. Dhawal Kulkarni made his debut for an injured Mohit and Umesh Yadav got a chance in the final match. Barring that the overall playing XI has had a similar look.

India’s likely XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami. Read the analysis of India’s ODI squad here

Complete coverage of India vs West Indies 2014 here

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on @AbhijitVirgo)