After thrashing the West Indies in the Test series, India would look to continue their domination over the Caribbean side when the two teams clash in the opening match of One-Day cricket series at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Tuesday.
India are a dominant force in the 50-over format and the world champions would aim for no less than a 5-0 whitewash, which they had inflicted on a strong England side recently.
With Mahendra Singh Dhoni getting the much-needed rest ahead of the gruelling tour of Australia, Virender Sehwag will lead the side and he will be seen in action in this format for the first time since the memorable World Cup win on April 2.
Having missed out on the One-day series in England because of hearing problem, Sehwag returned in the just-concluded Test series with his sparkling form intact even as a big score eluded him.
The 33-year-old Delhi player has led the side in seven matches, winning four of them, though he is yet to get a half-century as a captain with 44 as his best score.
When Sehwag last captained India in place of Dhoni, the side had chased down Sri Lanka’s 316 in Kolkata in 2009.
Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma will form the three pillars of the Indian middle order and with the trio in fine form, the hosts can be assured of a good show from them.
Raina, who turned 25 yesterday, is among runs having scored his personal best of unbeaten 204 against Punjab in a Ranji Trophy match recently.
The stylish southpaw who has centuries in all the three formats will look to make it count with an in-form Kohli.
Fresh from his 175 against Railways and 100 vs Rajasthan in the recent Ranji Trophy matches, Rohit is also back in the one-day fold after missing out on England tour due to injury.
Following a double century and century in two matches, Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary too retains the place alongside Ajinkya Rahane, even though the duo may not get a chance to figure in the XI till India seal the series.
In absence of Dhoni, Parthiv Patel will be the man in charge behind the stumps while the middle order will also miss another star player in Yuvraj Singh who is battling a non-malignant tumor in his lung.
But even without the star powers of Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Dhoni the Indian batting will remain India’s main strength.
In fact, India have the prowess to bat as deep as number nine with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and off-spinner R Ashwin giving ample show of their talent with the bat.
Fresh from a century and a five-for in the same Test match, Ashwin will add that sting to the exciting batting line-up, while the Indians will not be short on bowling ammunition either.
The just concluded Test series saw the emergence of young Indian bowlers with the spin duo of Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin leading the attack remarkably well, taking 42 of the 60 West Indies wickets.
In the pace line-up Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron too looked hungry for success as they played a perfect fiddle to pace spearhead Ishant Sharma.
With Ojha and Sharma not figuring in the one-day scheme of things, Ashwin will lead the spin front while leg-spinner Rahul Sharma will hope to make his ODI debut.
West Indies in their last one-day appearance were skittled out for a mere 61 against minnows Bangladesh and Indian spinners will once again look to stifle the spin-weary visitors.
Dew being a factor in the second innings, India will hope to win the toss and elect to field to chase a total, something they had done successfully in their last two outings here.
“We will take all the precautionary measures like spraying and mopping, but dew cannot be ruled out,” curator Pankaj Pattanaik said, predicting a total of around 300.
For West Indies, who lacked experience in the Test series, one-day format presents them a good chance to return home with some pride.
Windies defeated Bangladesh 2-1 in the ODI series before coming to India and barring the last match hiccup in Chittagong where they werer bundled out for 61 they showed fine mettle, something they can take confidence from before taking on heavyweights India.
The return of opener Lendl Simmons, who missed out the last ODI against Bangladesh and then India Test series due to an injury, will bolster the side.
Simmons, who totalled 177 from five ODIs against India in June at an average of 35.40, will look to give Windies a fine start along with Adrian Barath who too is in fine knick.
The middle-order will bank on the brilliance of Darren Bravo who sparkled with two centuries in three matches against India in the Test series, while Marlon Samuels experience will come in handy in the subcontinent conditions.
Presence of allrounders in Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and skipper Darren Sammy will add susbstance to their side.
Pacers Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach may share the new ball while off-spinner Sunil Narine and leggie Anthony Martin will be the spin options for the Windies.
Narine impressed for Trinidad and Tobago in the Champions League here and thereafter won the Curtly Ambrose Trophy for topping the Super50 bowling as he would look to get a debut here.
Unlike the Test series, India will enjoy the home crowd support with all the tickets sold out at the revamped 45,000-capacity Barabati stadium.
India: Virender Sehwag (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel (wk), R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary and Rahul Sharma.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (c), Lendl Simmons, Adrian Barath, Danza Hyatt, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Anthony Martin, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieran Powell, Ravi Rampaul and Kemar Roach.
Field umpires: Tony Hill (NZC), Shavir Tarapore;
Third umpire: S Ravi
Fourth umpire: Samsuddin
Match Referee: David Boon (CA).
Match starts: 2.30 pm (IST).