After a heartbreaking loss in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup, the ‘Men in Blue’ are on the road again. They have a full-fledged tour to the West Indies where they will play all three formats. The tour kicks off with a three-match T20I series.
The first couple of T20Is will take place in Lauderhill, Florida before the series is wrapped up in Guyana. India have blown a little hot and cold in the shortest format over the last couple of years. Thus, they will be looking to make the most of this series as this will kickstart their preparation for next year’s T20 World Cup which will take place in Australia.
Moreover, the Virat Kohli-led side will be up against a strong Windies side who love playing the shortest format of the game. Thus, it will be a big test for the ‘Men in Blue’. Hence, as the series gets underway, here is a look at India’s predicted playing XI for the first T20I.
Openers (Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan)
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been India’s premier white-ball openers for a long time now. They have an excellent record batting together and also, individually. While Sharma is the leading run-getter in T20I cricket, Dhawan was the highest run-scorer for the calendar year 2018 in the shortest format.
India’s vice-captain has been in blazing form as well. He finished at the top of the batting charts in the World Cup. Meanwhile, Dhawan will be returning after a thumb injury. He looked in good touch too before the injury. Thus, the duo will be looking to give India some solid starts at the top.
Middle-order (KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk))
KL Rahul. (Photo Source: Twitter)
KL Rahul scored quite a few runs in the World Cup but also looked a little iffy. However, he has an excellent T20 record. He’s had a couple of brilliant IPLs and also, averages 43.95 and has a strike-rate of almost 150 in T20Is. Thus, we may well see him bat at No. 3, as he did for a large part of 2018.
Skipper Virat Kohli will most likely bat at either 3 or 4. He’s shuffled around quite a bit in the shortest format. He’s also been hitting the ball well and will look to continue his good form. Shreyas Iyer has got an opportunity on the back of some consistent performances in the IPL and while playing for India ‘A’. He will be looking to make the most of it and push for a permanent spot in that middle-order.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of buzz around Rishabh Pant. He is touted to be India’s next superstar and will be donning the gloves in this series. Pant has a good T20 record but hasn’t been able to replicate it at the international level. Thus, he will be looking to make the most of this opportunity.
All-rounder (Krunal Pandya)
Krunal Pandya. (Photo: IANS)
Krunal Pandya has been a regular member of the Indian T20 side since November last year. He has done well but has the tendency to go for a few runs. However, the team management has backed the Baroda all-rounder and he might be a crucial part of their plans for next year’s T20 World Cup.
Bowlers (Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Navdeep Saini, Khaleel Ahmed)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Rahul Chahar has received his maiden national call-up. The 19-year-old leg-spinner has done really well in the IPL this year. Moreover, he has translated that success at the India ‘A’ level as well. Thus, in the absence of the two premier wrist-spinners, Chahar will most likely get a chance in the XI.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be leading India’s pace attack in the limited-overs leg. He has been in a good rhythm and will be looking to continue in the same vein.
He will be accompanied by a couple of youngsters. Khaleel Ahmed will most likely share the new ball with Kumar. This will be his second stint with the Indian team. He was a part of the side earlier this year and was in contention for a World Cup squad as well. Meanwhile, Navdeep Saini will most likely make his debut. He has impressed with his pace and he will be looking to make an early impact.
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