Having left out several key personnel, home side will need to be at its best against de Villiers’ men
West Indies might have had a memorable year, completing an unprecedented treble -- winning the ICC Under-19 World Cup as well as the women’s and men’s titles at the ICC World Twenty20 in India -- but will begin as the underdog when it takes on South Africa in the first match of the triangular One-Day International series, also involving Australia, on Friday (June 3) in Providence, Guyana.
The reasons are multi-fold. While West Indies excels in the 20-over format, in ODIs it is ranked No. 8. In comparison, Australia and South Africa are sitting pretty at No. 1 and 3 respectively. Furthermore, a few players who were part of the winning ICC World T20 squad -- Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy – have been left out of the tri-series squad.
Also a talking point is the inclusion of Sunil Narine And Kieron Pollard, both of whom have not played international cricket since November 2015. After being banned due to an illegal bowling action, Narine was given the green light by the ICC in April ahead of the Indian Premier League. He made a fairly successful comeback, but rediscovering his groove in the international arena will go a long way in boosting his confidence.
But, if rustiness and lack of experience in its ranks are potential hurdles for West Indies, South Africa will need to be wary about fatigue kicking in. Eleven players in the squad took part in the IPL as compared to only four West Indies players from the current squad.
The flip side of that coin is that most of those eleven players are coming into the tournament with some form. "I don't think (the difference between T20Is and ODIs) is that big. The only thing is that you have a lot of time to set the game up," suggested Hashim Amla, the veteran South African batsman. "You have to remind yourself that there is a lot of time still left in the game, but it's a lot easier to go from T20s to one-dayers than from a Test match."
With Amla, Quinton de Kock and AB de Villers forming a formidable top order, it's the bowlers that could hold the key. Though Guyana last hosted an international in 2013, spinners have won the man of the match award in the past two ODIs at the Providence Stadium and the visiting side could be tempted to play both Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso on Friday.
There were good signs for their bowling unit in the warm-up match on Sunday, while West Indies suffered two defeats in its practice games. It's difficult to say how much should be read into that. The men from the Caribbean aren't known to expend energy where it isn't absolutely compulsory, but a win against South Africa would serve up food for thought for anyone underestimating the side.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi.