Battle of the T20I Powerhouses

Plot:

Slow pitches, batsmen going through the grind, bowlers slowing things down, over seven hours of cricket – all of this will make way for more action, risky stroke-play, aggressive bowling and around four hours of thrilling T20 cricket. India proved to be the stronger team in the five-match ODI series that went the visitors’ way with a 3-1 victory. The West Indian batting was exposed against some quality bowling and their bowlers faced the wrath of the Indian batting powerhouses too. But then, that was a 50-overs-per-innings game. The tables may turn along with fortunes.

The last time India played West Indies in a T20I was last year, in Miami, Florida. The two-match series was reduced to just one game due to an intervention by poor weather which ended the second game without a result. The first game though, saw a massive run-fest, as 489 runs were scored and two batsmen went on to score centuries – Evin Lewis and KL Rahul. India fell two runs short of the target with Dhoni getting an outside edge to third man, when he attempted a cut shot off the final ball of the innings.

Some of the senior players return to the West Indies setup. The selectors have recalled Chris Gayle, while the likes of Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor and Sunil Narine will be in line to play this T20I. There will also be a change in guard for the Windies with Carlos Brathwaite captaining the team. The different-look Windies look like a big threat on paper, considering the power-hitting options and the bowling variety they possess in the squad.

India last won a T20I against West Indies, in a World T20 encounter in 2014, in Dhaka. Since then, they have lost two games, one during the WT20 semi-final and the second in Miami. Rishabh Pant couldn’t get an opportunity in the ODI series, but the T20 format might just suit his cause for an inclusion in the playing XI. If he chooses to do so, Kohli will be faced with the dilemma of leaving someone out. Kuldeep Yadav may well make his T20I debut as well, considering the success he found in the ODIs..

Stage:

Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica

The surface for the T20I could be different from how it was in the final ODI which India won to lift the series. It could be more batsman-friendly than it was, as is the case in the Caribbean Premier League. The ground is small enough for the calibre of hitters that both the teams possess.

Acts:

Virat Kohli vs Samuel Badree:

They play for the same franchise in the Indian Premier League and may know each other games more than the others in their respective squads. Badree has a reputation of being one of the most economical bowlers in the Powerplay and getting after him isn’t an easy proposition. Will Kohli take the attack to him or will he see him off?

Mohammed Shami vs Chris Gayle:

Gayle is making his return to international cricket after a while, and Mohammed Shami returned to international cricket after a break, during the ODI series. Gayle has grown into pacing his innings in T20 cricket too, but if Shami gets to swing the ball early on in the innings, it could be a tough beginning for the home boy.

Windies’ death bowling vs Hardik’s power-hitting:

In 2017, Hardik Pandya has shown his capabilities with the bat on many occasions, both in the Indian Premier League and on the international circuit too. He received a couple of promotions in the ODI series, but couldn’t stay at the crease for long. However, in the T20 format, he will be given the licence to go for the kill as soon as he walks in to bat. Don’t be surprised if the hard-hitter strolls in before Dhoni in the batting order.


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