Team India would be longing for revenge when they face the West Indies in the lone T20 international set to be played at Sabina Park in Kingston on Sunday. The last two completed T20I matches between both the teams ended up being thrillers in the mould of Fast and Furious movies. Last March, in a World T20 semi-final tie, West Indies chased down 193 to hand India a crushing defeat. Four months later, West Indies stopped India from pulling off a sensational run-chase as the Men In Blue fell just two short of the 246-run target.
India comfortably wrapped up the ODI series, winning three out of five matches with one being washed away. Since the squad for the ODIs and T20s are the same, India’s playing XI will not look drastically different. Skipper Virat Kohli will, once again, bank on wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s wicket-taking abilities. The 22-year-old lad from Uttar Pradesh has been the team’s best performer in the Caribbean. Kuldeep’s guaranteed spot in the playing XI will result in either Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja sitting out.
With regards to batting, it would be interesting to see if Delhi youngster Rishab Pant makes it to the final XI. Kohli’s decision to not to play him at all in the ODIs was a little baffling. If Pant is included in the team then the most likely scenario would be Ajinkya Rahane getting dropped and Kohli stepping up to open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan.
Over the years, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has become a death-overs specialist. His bowling, especially in the shortest format of the game has improved by leaps and bounds. Unless he suffers a late injury, his playing spot for the game shouldn’t be in doubt.
The inclusion of Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and Marlon Samuels into the T20 squad will give big boost to the West Indies. After suffering embarrassing losses in the ODI series, captain Carlos Brathwaite will be hoping that senior players like Gayle and Samuels will provide the much-needed inspiration to the team.
“It is always nice to get the big boys back, nice vibe in the dressing room. With all the boys coming in, we have jokes around, we have fun. We always know where to draw the line. They are all mature guys. Me as the captain, am always trying to keep the dressing room as happy as I can as long as the boys express themselves at the park,” Brathwaite told journalists.
Gayle’s record in T20s is second to none. But if current form is taken into the account, he hasn’t been at his ferocious best. His stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore at the 2017 edition of Indian Premier League was unremarkable as he was able to score only 200 runs in nine matches at an average of 22. But it’s highly unlikely that Brathwaite will make a big name like Gayle sit on the bench.
The Indians are very much familiar with the destructive nature of West Indies’ opening pair. Gayle will open the batting with Evin Lewis, who smashed the Indian bowlers for a 49-ball century when the sides met for a T20I match at Florida. Both the batsmen can change the course of the match with their power-hitting so the opening partnership holds the key for both the teams.
In the bowling department, West Indies will have to rely heavily on the experience of spinners Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine. Brathwaite will expect that the eight overs from Badree and Narine will cause maximum damage to India.
As it was evident from the fifth ODI, the Sabina Park pitch will be good for batting. India have momentum and confidence on their side. Their key batsmen like Dhawan and Kohli are in form and in spinner Kuldeep, they have a player who is full of tricks. It’s pretty obvious that India start as favourites but West Indies are World T20 champions, and can never be taken for granted.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Mohammed Shami.
West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite (C), Samuel Badree, Ronsford Beaton, Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.