For India, the series is done and dusted. The focus of the players, media and most of the other stakeholders has already been shifted to the upcoming tour of Australia. However, the formalities need to be completed and following an extended Diwali break, the hosts will turn-up at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday night to take on a demoralised Windies for the one final T20I fixture of the tour. And ideally, the Rohit Sharma-led team should use this dead-rubber to provide confidence to the newcomers in the dressing room.
Keeping the upcoming hectic schedule in mind, the team management has already decided to rest three key bowlers – Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Umesh Yadav – for this particular fixture. It means, there will be at least two changes from the XI which India played in Lucknow on Tuesday. Yuzvendra Chahal, who is yet to get a game in this series, may finally be picked alongside local boy Washington Sundar.
The Chepauk track traditionally favours the slow bowlers. So, here the think-tank can seriously consider playing three spinners. In that case, Krunal Pandya, who has ticked the right boxes in his debut international series, will get another opportunity to impress the selectors. There is also uncapped left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who is eagerly waiting for his turn.
Interestingly, the selectors have retained the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar for this low-key fixture. It means they want to provide the pacer some more match practice ahead of boarding the flight for Australia. Though, as a back-up Siddarth Kaul has been drafted in the squad in Chennai but as of now, Bhuvneshwar and left-armer Khaleel Ahmed look like the favourites to take care of the Indian pace bowling department for the final T20I.
Meanwhile, the batting looks sorted. The openers have got runs in the last match. Even out of touch KL Rahul chipped in with handy contribution. At the Eden Gardens, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey bailed them out from 45/4. However, the only concern is Rishabh Pant, who is yet to get into his groove in this series. So, there is an option of trying out Shreyas Iyer in his place but it seems highly unlikely.
For the Windies, it is all about not returning home empty-handed. Across formats, it has been a tough outing for them in India. In fact, since that surprise victory in the Pune ODI, the boys from the Caribbean have failed to put up any sort of resistance in this limited-overs leg of the tour. On each occasion, we have witnessed meek surrender by their power-packed batting unit. Especially, in the T20Is, the lack of contributions from the senior pros like Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Bravo and skipper Carlos Brathwaite, as well as poor shot selections by most of the batters have been a huge cause of concern for their think-tank. Also, their bowlers, barring the youngster Oshane Thomas, have had a pretty average tour.
On Sunday, the defending World T20 Champions will get one last chance to live up to the expectations of being the specialists in this format of the game.
Firstly, the Windies need to sort out their batting order. They need to send Nicholas Pooran alongside Shai Hope to open the innings. Furthermore, in the middle overs, someone like Shimron Hetmyer needs to play a more responsible role. During the first half of the ODI series, the southpaw looked like the most settled Windies batsman at the crease. More importantly, he was attacking the spinners at will. However, in the T20Is, the 21-year old Guyana batsman has got out cheaply on both outings, trying to go for expansive shots too early in his innings.
Under present circumstances, a maiden cap looks likely for the hard-hitting Sherfane Rutherford. He can be given a chance in place of either Dinesh Ramdin or Darren Bravo.
The Windies bowling is quite one-dimensional and they do not have a lot of options to choose from. Hence, once again a lot will depend on their new-ball bowlers, especially on Thomas. They desperately need early wickets in the powerplay to make India sweat a little. They would look to up the ante big time to sign off on a happy note.
As usual, the weather in Chennai will be hot and humid and with the dew around, chasing seems like the preferable option for both skippers. The local crowd has been deprived of cricket of late. The fans were left disappointed after the matches of their beloved team Chennai Super Kings were shifted to Pune in the IPL earlier this year due to security reasons. And now, with international cricket coming back in the city after more than a year's gap, we can expect a sell-out crowd to greet both the teams despite the game being a dead rubber.