After the home Test season, India’s focus will once again shift towards building their side for next years’ T20 World Cup in Australia. The Men in Blue are set to lock horns with 2016 T20 Champions West Indies in a three-match T20I with the first match set to take place in Hyderabad on December 06.
The Men in Blue will look to extend their six-match winning streak against the West Indies after having whitewashed the defending champions 0-3 (twice) in the past 12 months. Virat Kohli is back at the helm while Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, and Kuldeep Yadav also make a comeback to the squad.
It will be interesting to see how the hosts line up against the Caribbean side. After sweeping Bangladesh in the two-match Test series, Virat Kohli and his troops will be eager to continue their winning momentum. All eyes will be on the Indian bowling unit, who delivered a sensational performance in the Pink-ball Test at Eden Gardens.
Here’s a look at India’s predicted playing-
Openers- Rohit Sharma & KL Rahul
Another series. Another opportunity for the fringe players to assert their credentials and stake their claim in India’s first-choice eleven in next years’ ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
For KL Rahul, it will be a very crucial series. With an average of over 40 and a strike-rate in excess of 140 and two international hundreds, it is a shame really that Rahul isn’t yet locked in as India’s first-choice opener in the shortest format of the game, and it took Dhawan‘s injury for the right-hander to finally get his rightful place alongside Rohit Sharma.
Rahul scored a crucial half-century in the last T20I and is coming off a hugely successful Syed Mushtaq Ali campaign where he scored 313 runs in eight innings at an average of 52.17 and will look to continue with the same against the West Indies. His partner, Rohit Sharma, should do what he has been doing consistently in white-ball cricket for a decade now- shellac bowling attacks like he did against Bangladesh in the second T20I where he narrowly missed out on his 5th hundred.
Middle-Order-Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer & Rishabh Pant (wk)
After sitting out of the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh, Virat Kohli is back at the helm for the West Indies series and the Indian captain will hope he can spearhead the batting unit and play an anchor role to allow the shenanigans of the likes of Shreyas Iyer and others to take over.
Shreyas Iyer was the pick of the Indian batsman in the series decider against Bangladesh. The Mumbai batsman summed up the situation pretty well and inflicted a calculated assault on the bowlers. Iyer’s 33-ball 62 was the cornerstone in India getting to a match-winning total and the thing that struck was how he attacked the spinners and switched gears according to the situation.
After having an underwhelming season for Mumbai in SMAT, Iyer came back well in the final super-league fixture where he racked up a 40-ball 80 and will hope he carries the form against the West Indies.
Rishabh Pant has endured a horrendous time with both bat as well as behind the stumps and with Sanju Samson breathing down his neck, time is running out for Delhi’s southpaw. And, he would be hoping he can squash all the detractors and their criticism by playing an impactful inning if he does get an opportunity in Hyderabad.
All-rounders- Shivam Dube & Ravindra Jadeja
Shivam Dube made his debut against Bangladesh and while he didn’t have a successful outing with the bat, the all-rounder showed his class and temperament with the ball in the final T20I where he claimed crucial wickets in his second spell to turn the game on its head. With Hardik Pandya injured, India are looking for a fast-bowling all-rounder backup and the upcoming series against West Indies will be pivotal for both their aspirations as well as Dube’s.
Well! This is a difficult one- the second all-rounder’s spot. Does Ravindra Jadeja get into the side because of his 3-D play or Washington Sundar, who is coming off a great SMAT20 with the bat and also has the ability to bowl in the powerplay overs? Jadeja is coming off a break from the Bangladesh series and India might look to give him some game-time into the playing 11.
Bowlers- Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar & Bhuvneshwar Kumar
After flirting with the idea of giving chances to bowlers who can bat a ‘bit’, the team management is back to strike spinners; the X-factors and one of the major reasons why India has been so successful in white-ball cricket in the past 18-20 months.
The duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are set to re-unite against the West Indies. Kuldeep makes a comeback to the set-up for the first time since the World Cup, and the Men in Blue and their fans will hope that the wrist-spinners can spin a web around the opposition batsmen and the process of experimentation as far as spinners are concerned comes to an end.
As far as the fast bowling is concerned, it will be a sight to behold when the master and his prodigy will re-unite against the West Indies. Deepak Chahar was absolutely brilliant against Bangladesh. The right-hander took up the responsibility of leading an inexperienced pace attack and with Bhuvneshwar Kumar making a return to the side after a long injury layoff, it will be interesting to see how the duo goes about their business as a pair.
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