KOLKATA: Two days after the mega IPL auction and following on the heels of a lopsided ODI series, it won’t be easy for the three-match T20I series between India and the West Indies to catch the eyeballs.
However, it might be a good opportunity for both sides to set the template about how they will approach the shortest format of the game looking ahead to the T20 World Cup in Australia in eight months. West Indies will look no further than the Eden Gardens, the venue of this series, to seek inspiration to stage a comeback. It was here that they claimed the double crown on the same day in 2016 when their men’s and women’s sides lifted the ICC T20 World Cup.
Although the hosts swept the ODI series, things could have been different. Coach Phil Simmons was right when he stated that: “You bowl India out for 230 and 260, you are expected to chase it.” Sadly, the Caribbean batters faltered thrice, failing to last the full quota of 50 overs or reach 200 runs.
In spite of that, the Men in Blue cannot afford to take their rivals lightly. The West Indies are known to be one of the most dangerous units in world cricket in this shortest format. No wonder, they contribute a large number of foreign players to the IPL. Players like Jason Holder, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Rovman Powell and Akeal Hosein can single-handedly turn any match on its head. They should also carry a lot of confidence after upsetting England 3-2 in a see-saw T20I series at their home just a fortnight ago.
Bull’s-eye Bhuvi 🎯Sharp Siraj ⚡A snippet of how the #TeamIndia speedsters sweated it out in the practice sessio… https://t.co/UTO7ypTbR5
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In spite of losing three players – KL Rahul, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar – due to injuries, India still face a healthy selection dilemma. The absence of Rahul opens up the opportunity to try out an alternative opening combination. Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer offer good options as skipper Rohit Sharma‘s new partner.
Ruturaj stands a better chance, as the other two, if required, can fit in the middle order along with Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav. But with Rishabh Pant being named the vice-captain for this series, India may not field Kishan only as a batter. Venkatesh, who shot into the limelight opening for KKR in the IPL, had come down the order in the three T20Is that he has played so far. His inclusion will also provide the side an additional bowling option.
📸📸 When two legends of Indian Cricket met at the Eden Gardens 👌👌#TeamIndia #INDvWI @Paytm https://t.co/SfOiOogEPO
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All eyes will be on Virat Kohli too, who is going through a lean patch. The former skipper will love to get going where he hit his last international century in November 2019 in the pink ball day-night Test against Bangladesh.
While Mohammed Siraj will lead the side’s pace attack along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the team can look for some useful runs from Shardul Thakur or Deepak Chahar, whoever makes the side, in the lower order. Also, trying out Ravi Bishnoi along with Yuzvendra Chahal can be an exciting spin combo.
A sneak peek into #TeamIndia’s fielding drill at the Eden Gardens. 👀 👌#INDvWI | @Paytm https://t.co/wSFH4keVTx
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