West Indies, the two-time World Champions in the shortest format, are left with the only chance of levelling the T20I series against Ireland. They had done well to restrict the visitors in the second game but the rain played the spoilsport for them and will have to win the final game to avoid the ignominy of losing the series to the 14th ranked side in the format.
Ireland, on the other hand, have been impressive so far after losing the ODIs. They first took the attack to the Caribbeans in the series opener when it was least expected and then held the nerve in crunch moments courtesy of Joshua Little to take a lead. Even in the second T20I, despite losing their in-form openers, the likes of Andrew Balbirnie, Gareth Delany and Harry Tector batted well to propel the team to 147/9.
For the West Indies, it was Kieron Pollard who led from the front with the ball picking up four wickets. Rather he will be hoping that his services won’t be needed in the final game and back his regular bowlers to do the job. The batsmen, especially the top three, should look to score big after getting a start.
The Caribbeans might opt to leave out Khary Pierre who has been expensive in both the games so far. While he went for 45 runs in three overs in the series opener, Ireland batsmen smacked 21 runs off his bowling in two overs in the previous game. Kesrick Williams might come back to strengthen the bowling. Also, with the rain around, the spinners will find it tough to hold the wet ball whenever it will go in the outfield.
With the series on the line, Brandon King and Rovman Powell will have to wait for their chance and warm the bench again.
Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Kieron Pollard (C), Sherfane Rutherford, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh, Khary Pierre/Kesrick Williams, Sheldon Cottrell, Romario Shepherd.
Ireland will be banking on their openers once again to give them a very good start. They have steady heads in the middle-order in the form of their skipper Balbirnie and Delany. The team is lacking a finisher down the order with Gary Wilson finding it tough to score quickly. There is an option to play Mark Adair who can tonk the ball as well but for that to happen, they will have to accommodate a keeper in Lorcan Tucker as well. The rest of the XI seems to be fine.
Probable XI: Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Balbrinie (C), Gareth Delany, Harry Tector, Gary Wilson (WK), Simi Singh, George Dockrell, Barry McCarthy, Joshua Little, Craig Young.
Focus will be on
Lendl Simmons (West Indies)
22 and 10 are Lendl Simmons’ scores in this series so far and the time is running out for him. Brandon King is being benched for him and the opening batsman has to get the team off to a good start. With the T20 World Cup scheduled to be played later in the year, the management will be looking to give more game time to the likes of King. This could probably be the last chance for Simmons to prove his worth at the top.
Kevin O’Brien (Ireland)
Ever since he has started to open the innings, Kevin O’Brien has become a revelation in the T20Is. But of late, his form has dipped a bit. He has to be consistent in his trade if Ireland is to taste more success against the top teams and even the management will hope for the same as they would be eyeing to qualify for the main tournament later this year in Australia.
Head to Head
Matches – 6: West Indies won – 2 | Ireland won – 2 | N/R – 2
36 – Paul Stirling needs only 36 runs to become only the third player to complete 2000 runs as an opener in Men’s T20Is.
Live Streaming – Fan Code
Match timings – 06:00 PM local time (03:30 AM IST (January 20)) (10:00 PM GMT)
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