After comprehensively thumping Bangladesh in the historic Day-night Test in Kolkata, India’s home season now shifts towards the final-leg of their limited-overs assignments in 2019. The Men in Blue will be facing off against the West Indies in a three-match T20I series before ending an eventful 2019 with as many ODIs against the men from the Caribbean Islands.
The first match of the series will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on December 6. With the focus completely shifting to the T20 World Cup next year, India will want to use each game from hereon as an opportunity to figure out their best possible playing XI. Although the conditions will be very different from what they will get in Australia, they can use these games to get their team combination sorted heading into the mega event.
On the other hand, West Indies will aim to put together a strong performance against a full-strength India squad and improve their track record against them in T20Is. The visitors recently witnessed a change in captaincy in the T20I format with big-hitting all-rounder Kieron Pollard taking over the reins, and would hope for a quick change of fortunes after a string of poor performances, the most recent being losing 1-2 to Afghanistan in Lucknow.
They have included some of the better performers from this year’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) like Brandon King, Hayden Walsh Jr in a bid to strengthen their squad. On paper, this side looks extremely talented and possesses the overall balance required to challenge an upbeat and strong India in their home conditions.
Virat Kohli cleared in the press conference that the batting order is set which confirms at least the top five. However, if the net sessions on Thursday are any indicator, Shreyas Iyer might not play. He didn’t practice much and wasn’t to be seen around on Wednesday either. However, the newly married Manish Pandey batted for a decent period of time in the nets.
Ravindra Jadeja and Shivam Dube look certain to play with Kuldeep Yadav warming the bench. Kohli indicated that only one of the two wrist spinners would be in the XI with Jadeja and Washington Sundar around.
Probable X1: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer/Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (WK), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
West Indies will have quite a lot of questions to answer after their 2-1 defeat against Afghanistan in the T20I series in Lucknow. Nicolas Pooran, who will not be available for the first T20I, owing to his four-match ban, will be a huge miss for the visitors in the middle-order.
Kieron Pollard will have to motivate his troops to put on solid team performance against India. He can take solace from the fact that many players have enough experience playing in Indian conditions considering the fact that they have played in IPL.
Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons/Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Denesh Ramdin (WK), Kieron Pollard (C), Fabian Allen, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Sheldon Cottrell, Kesrick Williams, Hayden Walsh Jr
Focus will be on
KL Rahul (India)
This is the chance for KL Rahul. Shikhar Dhawan’s injury has paved the way for him to finally open the innings and if this move works, Rahul might potentially open for India in the World Cup. He has regained confidence by playing some mind-blowing knocks in the domestic tournament. But it remains to be seen if he can replicate the same at the highest level.
Kieron Pollard (West Indies)
Kieron Pollard, the leader, has already started to make the difference for the West Indies. But with a team as strong as India, the all-rounder will have to lead from the front in every aspect on the field and make sure that his troops stay motivated. Pollard stars in adversity more often than not and this could be his time finally in the maroon jersey.
Head to Head
Matches – 14 | India Won – 8 | West Indies Won – 5 | NR/Tie – 1
399 – Rohit Sharma is one six away from becoming the first Indian and only the 3rd player overall to complete 400 sixes in International cricket.
953 – The West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard needs 47 more runs to become the 4th player to complete 1000 T20I runs for West Indies.
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