© AFP
One can expect the unexpected when the two teams clash in the first match at Guyana © AFP

West Indies host South Africa in Match 1 of the tri-nation series, also involving Australia, at Providence in Guyana on June 3. After over 3 months of Twenty20 (T20) cricket, the cricketing world finally got a taste of Test cricket when England hosted Sri Lanka last month. It is now time for One-Day International (ODI) cricket as well with this tri-nation series. West Indies and South Africa met in a thrilling encounter during the ICC T20 World Cup 2016 in Nagpur earlier this year. West Indies managed to win by 3 wickets in the final over of the low-scoring match. Live Cricket Scorecard: West Indies vs South Africa, Tri-Nation Series 2016, Match 1 at Guyana

South Africa have been surprisingly poor this year despite a few bright sparks now and then. Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla have been in stupendous form, and will be keen to continue in similar vein. AB de Villiers is coming off a tremendous Indian Premier League (IPL) season. JP Duminy and Chris Morris did well during IPL 2016 playing for Delhi Daredevils (DD). Faf du Plessis was in decent form as well before picking up an injury. He is still not completely fit though, and is likely to miss at least the first match of the tri-series, which means South Africa’s usual stop-gap batsman Rilee Rossouw will likely get another game.

The Proteas have a potent bowling unit as usual, with the inclusion of Tabraiz Shamsi adding a new dimension to the attack. With pitches in West Indies likely to favor spin, Shamsi could form a lethal duo with Imran Tahir. In addition, the likes of Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott, and Kagiso Rabada remain as threatening as ever. Given the form of their players, South Africa will feel confident of redeeming themselves.

As for West Indies, only Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Carlos Brathwaite, and Kieron Pollard played in IPL 2016. Jerome Taylor was in the Mumbai Indians (MI) squad but did not get a game. Surprisingly the ones who did well in IPL 9 — Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell, as well as Chris Gayle — did not find a spot in the team.

West Indies have tasted immense success this year, with the Under-19 team winning the World Cup, the ladies winning the Women’s World T20 2016, and the men winning the T20 World Cup 2016. Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher were at the forefront of a number of victories, and they are likely to open batting in the tri-series as well. With Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo to follow, the West Indies top order looks in decent hands. Denesh Ramdin has not been able to replicate his form of 2014 and has looked a far cry from the quality batsman he can be. He is likely to continue down the order, with the returning of Pollard making it to the middle order. The bowling will comprise of Narine, Sulieman Benn, Jerome Taylor, Brathwaite, and skipper Holder.

The home advantage and current momentum makes West Indies the favorites, but it remains to be seen whether they can deliver on the promise they showed recently in the T20 World Cup. They are up against a South African team that has not had a great run so far in 2016 and will be wary of West Indies’ unpredictability. Expect the unexpected at Guyana.

Squads:

West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels, Andre Fletcher, Suleiman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Jerome Taylor, Ashley Nurse.

South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Rilee Rossouw, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Farhaan Behardien, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott.

Time: 13:00 local | 17:00 GMT | 22:30 IST

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is an animal lover and comic, film and TV geek. A fast bowler at heart, he enjoys watching a good, low-scoring game of cricket. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)