India head into their all-format tour of the West Indies this weekend with more on their mind than simply winning a couple of T20s. For Virat Kohli's side — and indeed for the West Indies — it is a chance to pick up the pieces after a disappointing one-day international (ODI) World Cup in England and put behind them the recent talk of a split in the camp.
Kohli's confidant Ravi Shastri is on borrowed time before the appointment of a new coach, former captain MS Dhoni has skipped the tour to do military service while Kohli this week has had to dismiss talk of a rift with prolific opening batsman Rohit Sharma.
"It baffles you as a leader, as a coach, and as a team when lies are being floated around," Kohli told reporters before departing for Florida. "And they are made to look believable. We have had no issues."
India, unexpectedly beaten by New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final last month, are likely to find plenty of support during the first two T20sI with expatriate Indians expected to outnumber West Indian fans at the delightful Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida.
West Indies and India played a T20I in Florida three years ago and produced real fireworks, with KL Rahul smashing a century off 46 balls and Evin Lewis responding for the West Indies with a ton off 49 balls. India won by just one run.
There is no Chris Gayle in Florida as he is hard at work in the Global T20 event in Canada. But the big-hitting opener has been selected for the ODI leg of the tour, perhaps as a final farewell in front of home fans.
The Tests in Antigua and Jamaica will have a special significance as they will mark the first round of matches for each side in the new World Test Championship.
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 1, 2019
India will start favourites across all three formats although the West Indies are expected to be at their most competitive and explosive in the T20s.
Full schedule of India vs West Indies series:
3 August - India vs West Indies 1st T20I at 8 PM in Lauderhill, Florida
4 August - India vs West Indies 2nd T20I at 8 PM in Lauderhill, Florida
6 August - India vs West Indies 3rd T20I at 8 PM in Guyana
8 August - India vs West Indies 1st ODI at 7 PM in Guyana
11 August - India vs West Indies 2nd ODI at 7 PM in Port of Spain, Trinidad
14 August - India vs West Indies 3rd ODI at 7 PM in Port of Spain, Trinidad
22-26 August - India vs West Indies 1st Test at 7 PM at North Sound, Antigua
30 August - 3 September - India vs West Indies 2nd Test at 8 PM at Kingston, Jamaica.
All timings in IST
(With inputs from AFP)