Although they posed a tough challenge to the hosts in the first T20I, West Indies have been let down mainly by their batting
High on explosive power, they bat deep and have enough utility cricketers whose games are tailor-made for the format. They have so far been let down by inconsistency, which they need to address quickly.
They have carefully tried to balance potential versus performance. The inclusion of Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers, both of whom offer all-round depth, are perfect examples. Not traditionally known for their T20 game, the pair has had to put in solid performances for two seasons to get here. Without Andre Russell, they have built their lower order by backing Odean Smith and Fabian Allen. It’s time for them to repay the faith.
India are rediscovering a winning formula in T20Is. They are finally beginning to show signs of moving away from their safety-first approach. On Wednesday, Rohit Sharma laid down the marker with his 40 off 19 for the rest of the line-up to follow.
Things are beginning to fall into place. Suryakumar Yadav’s calming presence in the middle order, Venkatesh Iyer’s finishing, the emergence of Ravi Bishnoi and the return of Yuzvendra Chahal all bode well. Virat Kohli hasn’t had the runs, but his presence within the group has remained unchanged. The team management isn’t fretting over his lack of big runs. Friday is another opportunity for India to get it all together and seal the series.
India WWWWW (Last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
West Indies LWLWL
In the spotlight
India will probably make one forced change if the swelling on Deepak Chahar’s wrists rules him out. He got hit while fielding a Pollard pull and left the field immediately. He didn’t return to complete his full quota of overs. India have a like-for-like replacement in Shardul Thakur.
India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Ishan Kishan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Venkatesh Iyer, 7 Harshal Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Jason Holder got hit on the chest during training prior to the opening T20I and was rested. The team management expects him to be fit for Friday. He could slot in for allrounder Akeal Hosein.
West Indies (possible): 1 Kyle Mayers, 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 4 Roston Chase, 5 Kieron Pollard (capt), 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Odean Smith, 9 Romario Shepherd, 10 Fabian Allen, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Pitch and conditions
West Indies vice-captain Pooran, who top-scored with 61 on Wednesday, felt the ball held on to the surface a tad longer, especially when the bowlers bowled back of a length. This made hitting through the line difficult. He also observed the ball skidded through faster in the second innings because of dew. The receding winter nip and evening chill that engulfs Kolkata will mean the dew factor will come into play again, which means the captain who wins the toss will most likely want to chase again.
Stats and trivia
“It’s very hard on Shreyas Iyer to not make it to the XI, but it’s what the team requires. We need that option in the middle, someone who can bowl. We were very clear with Shreyas, we told him the team wants that option [of an allrounder] going into the World Cup.”
Rohit Sharma gives a peek into the thought process building up to the T20 World Cup
“We were in two minds against them. Whether to attack them or keep them out of the game. We got caught there. It is a small fix. We have to be more clear in the next game to execute our plans.”
Nicholas Pooran on where West Indies lost the plot on Wednesday
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo