India vs West Indies T20 series: Can Nicholas Pooran’s team stop India?


Just three days after securing a clean sweep of the ODI series, the Indian cricket team will once again be in action. It will be in the shortest format of the game this time as they compete in a 5-match T20I series against the West Indies. Even though it has only been three days, expect quite a few new faces as far as the Indians are concerned with the T20 World Cup fast approaching.

India will have their skipper back, with Rohit Sharma returning to the squad after being rested for the ODI leg of the tour. Along with Rohit Sharma, the likes of Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya, who have also been rested, will make a return to the squad. T20 specialists like Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav will also be in contention.

Match Details: West Indies vs India, 1st T20I, July 29

Venue: Briann Lara Stadium, Tarouba, Trinidad

Pitch and Conditions: This is the first international fixture to take place at this venue, although it has hosted 31 CPL games, the last of which came in 2020. The average first innings score at this ground is 141. So, expect spinners to play a huge role in the game. The temperature is expected to hover around 27°C on the matchday with 79% humidity and 6 km/hr wind speed. There is an 80% chance of rain during the course of the game.

WI will try its best to challenge Indian Cricketers

Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma will have some key decisions to make on who to leave out from the 18-member squad, brimming with talent. The big question is who opens with Rohit Sharma at the top of the order? Ishan Kishan opened the innings in the 1st T20I against England, while Pant partnered Rohit in the next two games. India have been grooming Kishan as the back-up opener ever since he made his debut last year.

He has had a good start to his career but has tailed off a bit and will that convince the management to give him a go at the top ahead of Pant? If Pant does indeed get picked, then does it mean that he is competing with Kishan as the backup opener and not with Dinesh Karthik for the finisher’s role?

Where does this leave KL Rahul in all of this, who is out of the series due to Covid? With Virat Kohli out, Deepak Hooda and Shreyas Iyer are competing for the No.3 spot. Hooda hasn’t put a foot wrong so far in his international career, while Iyer returned to form at just the right time. The Baroda all-rounder could edge it as his off-spin will come in handy against the home side’s four left-handers.

Suryakumar Yadav is a certainty at four, while Hardik Pandya will take his place at No.5. This series will be a litmus test for Dinesh Karthik, who has high hopes of making it into the World Cup squad. With Jadeja still not fit enough to play, Axar Patel will get another chance.

In the bowling department, Harshal Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are certainities, while India will have to choose between Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan for the 3rd seamer’s slot. With Yuzvendra Chahal missing, India have three spin options to choose from in the form of Ashwin, Bhishnoi and Kuldeep Yadav.

For the home side, the return of Shimron Hetmeyer will come as a huge boost to a side that is looking devoid of confidence. West Indies have named a bigger, 16-member squad for the 5-match T20I series, with the likes of vice-captain Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul and Devon Thomas being added to the squad.

Indians are in a very aggressive form

What they said:

“We haven’t got the results in the World Cups but that doesn’t mean we were playing bad cricket for so many years. I don’t agree that we were playing conservative cricket. If you lose an odd game in the World Cup, it seems we were doing things wrong and we didn’t take chances. But if you look [at it], we won probably 80% [71%] of our games leading into the World Cup. If you are conservative, you won’t win these many games.” Rohit Sharma when asked whether India’s failures in ICC tournaments was due to their conservative approach.

“West Indies will be a different unit in T20’s. We can beat India in the series. The guys are up for the challenge and are pumped up to face India, and we are ready for it. We need to build on partnerships and it is also nice to have Shimron Hetmyer back in the team. He passed the fitness test and it is always great to have a player of his quality back in the team.” Nicholas Pooran on the challenges facing India and Hetmeyer’s return to the squad.

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