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Match Preview – West Indies vs India, West Indies in India 2021/22, 1st T20I


Preview

With the T20 World Cup later this year, every match and series is an opportunity to finetune preparations

Big picture

India outclassed West Indies in each of the three ODIs, but the T20I series is expected to be more competitive, given that the shortest format is arguably the one West Indies are at their strongest in. However, while West Indies did have a stirring 3-2 win against England in their most recent T20I outing, it bears remembering that India are right now on a six-match winning streak in the format. It began in the T20 World Cup, with wins against Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia, and if those can be discounted as coming against relatively weaker teams, India also blanked New Zealand 3-0 at home after the World Cup.

The age-old maxim of India being tough to beat at home still holds true, and West Indies will need to be a much more consistently firing unit to leave India with something to show. India have some regulars missing, but there is enough depth in the squad to make them a daunting proposition. The most pressing question for India is: who will Rohit Sharma’s opening partner be? KL Rahul is absent, after all.
Just about a year ago, when Virat Kohli was still leading the side, he had indicated that Rohit and he could form a long-term opening partnership. Ishan Kishan has had a fair bit of success in the role in the IPL, as have Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer. In the ODIs, India threw a curve-ball with Rishabh Pant walking out in one game. So, there are options aplenty. Kohli and Pant are certainties in the XI, and very comfortable in the middle-order, so by that logic, Kishan could be the front-runner for the position.
West Indies, meanwhile, have a curious mix of new-age T20 big-hitters alongside the accumulators in Shai Hope, Darren Bravo and the like, and they will have to deploy that mix judiciously to maximise the full impact of their power-hitters.

Form guide

Last five completed T20Is; most recent first
India WWWWW
West Indies WLWLW

In the spotlight

Rishabh Pant has curiously underwhelming T20I numbers, with a strike rate of only 122.87. That is more to do perhaps with a lack of role clarity in the set-up. Now, he’s been installed as the vice-captain to Rohit for this series, and will be part of the leadership group. That should give him the freedom to define his own role, and play in the manner that he is most comfortable with. Elevation to the vice-captaincy also comes with the intangible greater security of a spot in the XI, which could free him up mentally.

Jason Holder‘s stocks have risen dramatically of late. He was always one of West Indies’ lynchpins in Test cricket and ODIs, but from not being part of the main squad at the T20 World Cup to having IPL franchises compete fiercely for him four months later, it’s been a steep rise. Holder’s versatility with bat and ball is remarkable. He can bowl across phases in T20 cricket, he can also bat at different spots. He can bowl a heavy ball, using his height to good effect, and he has the power to clear the ropes.

Team news

If Kishan is locked in as Rohit’s opening partner, it still leaves the question of numbers five and six for India. Suryakumar Yadav should get one of those spots. The other depends on whether the team wants the insurance of a sixth bowling option, in which case there’s Venkatesh and Deepak Hooda to choose from. Or they might want someone like Shreyas Iyer, who could offer more with the bat.

India (possible) 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Ishan Kishan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Shreyas Iyer, 7 Harshal Patel, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mohammed Siraj, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Avesh Khan

The big question for West Indies was to do with captain Kieron Pollard‘s fitness. He missed the last two ODIs with a niggle, and West Indies missed his presence with the bat and in the field. He is now fit, he confirmed on the eve of the match, and that lends the batting a lot of heft. If they still want to add more stolid batters, West Indies might have to turn to Bravo or Roston Chase. The plethora of allrounders they have ensures that the bowling will have options and the batting will have depth.

West Indies (possible) 1 Kyle Mayers, 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 4 Kieron Pollard (capt), 5 Rovman Powell, 6 Jason Holder, 7 Romario Shepherd, 8 Fabian Allen, 9 Odean Smith, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Sheldon Cottrell

Pitch and conditions

It’s expected to be a pitch with good pace, bounce and carry. However, the dew factor could be significant. There was heavy dew on the outfield two days out from the game, and the eve of the match had a very foggy morning. That makes the toss crucial.

Stats and trivia

  • India and West Indies have played 17 T20Is so far, of which India have won ten and West Indies six.
  • Only 30 runs separate Kohli (3227) and Rohit (3197) on the overall runs tally in T20Is, with Kohli in second place right now and Rohit third. They could both overtake Martin Guptill, who has the most T20I runs in the world with 3299, in this series.

This preview was updated at 3.00pm GMT with Kieron Pollard’s fitness status.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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