Nicholas Pooran, west indies player Nicholas Pooran,
Nicholas Pooran. Photo courtesy of CWI Media/Philip Spooner

By Ravi Madholall
The objectivity for the first game is no doubt to come out victorious, and can be deemed an encounter of enormous importance for host-team West Indies and their opponents Ireland.

In this highly-anticipated three-match 50-over rubber, the Caribbean boys would go into actions as firm favorites on Tuesday at the Kensington Oval, Barbados.

Following the conclusion of the limited-over series, they will bounce into the T20 version with three engagements and those should also be riveting, spreading across the region.

Apart from their familiarity with home conditions, the West Indians have the psychological advantage after reaching the final in the tri-series with Ireland mid last year in which Bangladesh won the 50-over showdown which was held by Ireland.

West Indies gathered big scores whipping the Irish men comprehensively by 196 runs on one occasion which is a testament to their ability to accumulate winning totals and that will definitely boost their confidence immensely.

Ireland, who suffered two defeats albeit in practiced matches to intensify their preparations in the Caribbean, is known as a determined unit and can defy the odds on a pitch which is expected to have some demons early, though.

Again, West Indies might bank heavily on their batsmen to make the impression understandably due to excellent form; opener and the consistent Shai Hope, exciting young batting sensations Shimron Hetmyer and Nicolas Pooran and skipper Kieron Pollard among others.

These batsmen could be prolific against the lowly-rated Ireland after they would have done admirably well on their recent visit to India. They made a massive impact with the bat along with Evin Lewis whose opening style is always admirable and capable of being equally destructive. Brandon King and Sunil Ambris are also talented enough to be batting heroes too.

West Indies have picked two specialist spinners and they are relatively new to international cricket and with Ireland possessing an experienced batting lineup, including the stalwart and former skipper William Porterfield and the dynamic Kevin O’Brien, the contest with bat and ball is going to be competitive, if they fire.

The bowling should be confident though as left-arm seamer Sheldon Cottrell will most likely starting off proceedings for the men in the maroon jerseys. Young and promising quickie Alzari Joseph, Romario Shepherd Keemo Paul are the other men bowling pace.

Left-arm spinner Khary Pierre and leg-break bowler Hayden Walsh Jr. could be effective once take good control of accuracy quickly. In addition to this pair, versatile all-rounder Roston Chase may offer his decent off-spin, if call-up on.

Ireland, who currently ranked number 11, just two places below West Indies, certainly can count on their other senior campaigners like Boyn Rankin, Paul String, Gary Wilson and skipper Andy Balbirne to churn out terrific performances in their various capacities.

Meanwhile, the second one-day fixture is billed for the same venue on Thursday while the final game takes place Sunday in Grenada.

West Indies squad reads: Kieron Pollard (c), Sunil Ambris, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Hayden Walsh Jr.

Ireland squad reads: Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Gareth Delany, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.