A strong Indian team in all its might will try to overwhelm the West Indies in its bid to complete a second straight clean sweep in the three-game T20I series starting Friday. With less than three months to go before the T20 World Cup, skipper Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid will get around 16 games (5 vs WI, 5 in Asia Cup (if India plays final), 3 vs Australia, 3 vs South Africa ) to bolster their core team who will then play unchanged during the mega event.
Just the thought of a first eleven consisting of Rohit, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik as the top five specialist hitters can have both an intimidating and debilitating effect on the opposition.
And that too at a time when a player of Virat Kohli’s stature has failed miserably in the shortest form and doubts are being raised about his place in the playing XI.
The previous England series has shown that India’s white ball players have that imposing alpha-manlike presence at the centre, even when their best player Kohli is on the decline.
Can Deepak Hooda challenge Kohli’s position?
For example, the series of five games against the West Indies, which is technically played in three different countries (Trinidad & Tobago, St. Kitts & Nevis and the US), will also give us a clear idea of whether Kohli’s days of invincibility are over or not. not.
Deepak Hooda, whatever small number of T20Is he has played, has shown that it belongs to this level. He has a hundred innings opening the innings against Ireland and in the only T20 he played against England he looked good before being forced to relinquish his place to Kohli.
With his short breaks boosting his skills, at least three to four good matches in this series will surely increase Rohit’s headaches and also put pressure on Kohli when he returns for the UAE Asia Cup.
Number three will be the only position that will be a point of contention as to India’s batting order going into the T20 World Cup.
The other factor is the return of regular vice-captain KL Rahul to the squad and where does one fit in with this prolific IPL performer, although his way of building a T20 innings is up for debate.
Rohit-Pant pair could be way ahead in T20I
In terms of numbers, Pant-Rohit’s opening pair didn’t set the stage ablaze against England, but stats often don’t give the bigger picture.
The left-right combination has shown the intent to dominate and with their kind of reach this could be a nightmare for any opposition on any given day.
In fact, on tacky West Indian courts where spinners could work in Powerplay, the duo could be doubly dangerous and as far as Australian wickets go, their ability to play horizontal bat shots effortlessly would serve them well.
Will Ashwin get a peek at the T20 World Cup?
With Jadeja’s fitness as an issue and also his growing focus on being an all-around batter, Ravichandran Ashwin is still India’s best slow bowler in Powerplay overs with his variations that include the deadly carrom ball.
There is also Kuldeep Yadav in the squad and Ravi Bishnoi, who has been more of a glorified traveler since Chahal found his mojo.
Yuzvendra Chahal’s place in first XI is non-negotiable and Washington Sundar will return to the set up any day, effectively making it Ashwin’s last chance to stake his claim for a place in XI.
Choice of third specialist seamstress/pacer to join Bumrah-Bhuvi. to connect
If they stay injury-free, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are sure to be promising starters in the playing XI on October 23, when India faces arch-rival Pakistan.
With Hardik Pandya also bowling full tilt India would be looking to finalize their third specialist pacer and if Harshal Patel does well in this series there will be a lot of pressure on Deepak Chahar who will likely be back for the Asian Cup .
West Indies looking for improvements
With a few T20 specialists and hard hitters, the hosts are likely to go with the same squad, including Brandon King, Kyle Mayers and Rovman Powell who defeated Bangladesh 2-0 in the three-game series at home earlier this month.
The likes of Myers and skipper Pooran are also in good shape with the bat, and that could give the West Indies the right amount of confidence to give India a tough fight.