Providence (Guyana): India’s most sought after IPL stars will have a reputation to defend and parity to restore when they take on a quality West Indies side in the second T20 International of the five-match series here on Sunday.
A boundary was the difference between the two teams in the opening game in Tarouba where West Indies prevailed on a slow batting track with an impressive bowling effort at the back-end.
The T20I series is of little consequence in an ODI World Cup year but skipper Hardik Pandya along with his deputy Suryakumar Yadav would expect to put a far improved batting show — both individually as well as collectively.
The duo along with Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill and Sanju Samson are all looking at the ODI World Cup but no one would mind a few good knocks which will give them some confidence ahead of the Asia Cup.
Save debutant Tilak Varma, who looked ready for international cricket during his knock of 39, the Indian batting with IPL prima donnas earning fat pay cheques, flattered to deceive.
However, with five T20s being played in a period of nine days, involving three countries (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and United States), it is also imperative that the likes of skipper Hardik, openers Gill and Kishan, spinner Kuldeep Yadav get adequate rest keeping the big picture in mind.
Playing so many T20 games on the bounce with little rest and lot of travelling won’t do them any good even if one considers that this is not an ageing team like the ODI outfit.
This T20 series against the West Indies gives India the best chance to check out their shortest format options as it would become important next year with the World Cup being held in the Americas (West Indies and United States).
Hence, trying out last IPL edition’s sensation Yashasvi Jaiswal during the series if not the second game wouldn’t be a bad option.
A better batting effort in the back-10 would be top priority at a venue where the West Indies haven’t had a great T20I record. Out of 11 matches played at this ground, three didn’t produce result due to rain and in the remaining eight, West Indies lost five games.
But despite their declining standards in the two traditional formats, West Indies in T20 cricket remain a force to reckon with as they produce the maximum premium ‘Guns for Hire’ in the franchise market after Australia.
The Nicholas Poorans, Kyle Mayers, Shimron Hetmyers, Rovman Powells, Romario Shepherds are on even keel, at least in this format and hence the Indian team will find this particular outfit toughest to beat in current circumstances.
For India, Suryakumar would want to get a big one in his pet format and regain a bit of confidence that has eroded because of a lean patch in the ODIs.
Ditto for Samson, a perennial underachiever at the international level despite the talent that he possesses. He will be travelling to Ireland after this series and hence would be looking to add runs under his belt.
Among bowlers, Yuzvendra Chahal has fallen off a bit in ODI pecking order and he will have a point to prove if he gets an opportunity in all five games.
Arshdeep Singh is a work-in-progress as far as death overs bowling is concerned while Mukesh Kumar is reaping rewards for his good show throughout the tour.
But at some point, both Avesh Khan and Umran Malik, the two tearaway quicks need to be given an opportunity and see if they can become the X-factor on docile tracks.
Teams (from): India: Ishan Kishan (wk), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Sanju Samson (wk), Hardik Pandya (c), Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.
West Indies: Rovman Powell (c), Kyle Mayers (vc), Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Obed McCoy, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Oshane Thomas.
Match starts at 8 pm IST.