West Indies v India
Thursday 8 August 14.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
West Indies had to go through qualifying to make the World Cup and, once they got there, it showed. Bar an extraordinary razing of Pakistan they were one of the most one-dimensional teams ever seen of the established nations.
They gave it a biff - trying to hit too many sixes - and they bowled fast. And that was about it. Teams soon worked them out and turned the screw. Until West Indies start to show some nous, craft and variation they are destined to struggle in this format.
It won't help that Chris Gayle has been retained. Gayle personifies their issues. He can't run, he mucks about in the field and if teams cramp him for room he's got no answer. At least Jason Holder and Shai Hope return to the squad after missing the T20 series defeat by India.
Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas and Sheldon Cottrell form a potent new-ball trio. They will bowl quickly. But, as we said, they are reliant on Roston Chase showing smarts with his spin and doing something different. Andre Russel is not fit.
Still looking for middle-order hero
India exited at the semi-final stage against New Zealand in a corker of a match. But the lack of righteous anger and effigy burning - as is the norm when India go out of a World Cup - back home suggested that most knew that they didn't have what it took to usurp England.
Indeed, India paid the price for sticking with the tried and trusted and must now rebuild. MS Dhoni, a blessing this, has decided to make himself unavailable for the tour so Rish Pant gets the chance to nail down the wicketkeeper's slot.
The search for a middle-order man who takes the pressure off the Holy Trinity of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan continues. Shreyas Iyer could be given a run. Or Manish Pandey. KL Rahul didn't take his chance in the World Cup.
They have retained faith with Kuldeep Yadav, whose collapse in form was a chief reason for India losing confidence. He will be paired once again with Yuz Chahal. Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Mohammad Shami and Bhuv Kumar are the pace options. There is no Hardik Pandya so Ravi Jadeja is key.
Don't expect big runs
There have been 11 ODI at Providence since 2010. But the sluggish nature of the surface which makes T20 matches tight affairs is replicated. The first-innings average is just 223. With power and pace not that useful it is perhaps no surprise that West Indies have lost three of their last four at the venue. There is no toss bias to get excited about. Prices and liquidity are not that reliable on the first-innings runs market but we'll keep fingers crossed that if the hosts bat first we can lay them for 260 or more at around 2.35/4.
Possible trade on Windies
There might be occasions in this series that we can make a case for the Windies at 3.412/5. But this isn't one of them. India should feel pretty comfortable on the Providence surface and should be able to outsmart the limited hosts.
What West Indies need is something fast and bouncy to get stuck into opposition batters and bowlers alike. So they will have to wait for a better opportunity.
That doesn't mean Windies can trade lower, though. At India's odds of 1.331/3 they are going to have to go big first up to maintain their position in the market. The pitch record suggests that 300 should be beyond them. If West Indies are able to restrict India to just above the average - say 250 or 260 the market could be fooled.
Happy to be on Hetmyer
This is Shimron Hetmyer's home ground and his knowledge of the pitch should help him frustrate India's bowlers. In his two ODI outings on the ground he has scores of 52 and 125. Both won him top-bat honours. Sportsbook go 9/2. In the previous game Hope managed a half-century against Pakistan to notch. His game, finding gaps and caressing, should suit the surface, too.
Rohit was a consistent top-bat value bet in the World Cup for India and there will be plenty of takers of Sportsbook's 7/2. Kohli once again has favourite status but to say we have a grump on with him is an understatement after he failed three times in the T20 series to land good odds for top bat. Twice he had the win in the bag only to get out within a handful of runs of finishing the job.