India, West Indies look to bolster World Cup preps with T20I series ￼
India will be wary of the threat that West Indies carry in the shortest format of cricket when the two teams face off in the first of the three-match series starting at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday. The home team will be high on confidence having drubbed West Indies 3-0 in the ODI series which concluded a few days ago, producing compelling performances in all departments across the three games.
Both India and West Indies will take the series as an excellent opportunity to bolster their preparations for the T20 World Cup which will be played in Australia later this year. For West Indies, challenging conditions in India against a formidable opponent will be a great challenge given that they are on a high themselves in the format, having recorded a 3-2 victory at home against England before they came to India.
India will be without the services of their regular vice-captain KL Rahul along with all-rounder Akshar Patel and Washington Sundar, with the three cricketers ruled out of the series due to injuries. While India have not named a replacement for Rahul and Patel, Sundar has been replaced by Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav which means that India have three leg-spinners for this series.
India had earlier named their most successful bowler in the format, Yuzvendra Chahal along with the uncapped Ravi Bishnoi for the T20I series squad to face the West Indies. Their ace fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been rested for this entire home series against West Indies. In the fast bowling department, India have the experience of Bhuvneshwar Kumar along with Mohammad Siraj, Harshal Patel, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar to attack with.
In the batting department, Rohit Sharma will be partnering with explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan at the top while former captain Virat Kohli will be chasing big runs after ordinary returns in the ODI series against the Caribbean side. The presence of Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant bolsters the middle order while all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer get another opportunity to prove his worth.
The West Indies cricketers find themselves at ease and brimming with confidence while playing the shortest format and they will certainly want to avenge their ODI series defeat against India. Kieron Pollard is expected to be fit for the first match while the likes of Nicolas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Kyle Mayers and Odean Smith will be their main weapons with the bat.
The Caribbean side has some exciting bowlers in Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh, Smith and most importantly, former captain Jason Holder whose all-round skills and experience of playing in India will come to a good use in the series in the shortest format.
The two teams will be ready for an intense battle on batting-friendly pitches at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata for the three T20Is, which will be played in a space of six days with a day’s gap separating each match. The second and third T20Is will be played on February 18 and 20 respectively.