Series to get set for T20 World Cup
Even without several of their regulars, India won all three matches of the ODI series against the West Indies. But that’s done and dusted. Barring the likes of Virat Kohli, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, most of the key players will be in action in the T20I leg of the Windies tour, which begins on Friday at the Brian Lara Stadium at Tarouba in Trinidad.
Not too many days are left for the T20 World Cup in Australia, which implies skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid would be having their minds occupied also on the team combination and what could be an ideal XI leading up to the showpiece event. Of course, India will still have the Asia Cup next month, followed by the home whiteball assignments versus Australia and South Africa before finalising the squad. India’s preparation for the T20 Cup had begun with the home series versus South Africa soon after the IPL, and that was followed by three games against England.
But against the Proteas too, India were without quite a few of their regular players, while in England, the Jos Buttler-led side had a depleted look. This Windies unit, regardless of their losing streak in the 50-over format, cannot really be taken for granted in the game’s shortest version.
Agreed, their current lot doesn’t really match the explosiveness of the stalwarts such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell or Dwayne Bravo, but someone like Rovman Powell or for that matter, captain Nicholas Pooran himself, will not be taking much time to get into the groove in a T20 encounter. Thus, bowling-wise, India must be diligent as taking these Windies batters lightly could make them pay. Based on his current form, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is expected to spearhead the attack while it remains to be seen who he shares the new ball with.
Ideally, young left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh deserves a chance, at least now. The team management, though, can also think of bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya in tandem with Bhuvneshwar, especially given the former’s effectiveness in the recent limited overs games in England.
Which of the spinners India select in their XI would also be interesting to see as senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, too, is back in the squad along with left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.
Young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi is in contention as well. At the same time, it could be unfair on left-armer Axar Patel if he’s dropped in order to accommodate Ravindra Jadeja in the XI, provided the latter is fully fit.
Eye on Pant
It would be best for India if they continue to slot Rishabh Pant as Rohit’s opening partner. Even if Pant scores a 20- odd at a strike rate of around 200, that enables the team to make good use of the Powerplay overs.
Match starts: 8pm IST, live on FanCode & DD Sports