Move over ODI cricket, the game’s new dying format. Welcome, T20Is, the Best kid on the block, even more so in a T20 World Cup year.
With the global tournament in Australia less than three months away, this five-match T20I series offers a great opportunity for the West Indies and India to back their plans.
After India failed to qualify for the knockouts of the 2021 edition, India changed their batting template. This year they score 9.45 per over. If you exclude 2013, when they only played one T20I, this is their best score in a calendar year. In fact, no other team has scored faster than India this year.
In recent years, T20I cricket has been the strongest suit in the West Indies. But, not for the first time, they will miss many of their stars who lit several T20 competitions around the world. Kieron Pollard is retired, while Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are not part of the roster.
However, the team will be confident of their 2-0 win against Bangladesh in the format, as well as a much-improved performance in the ODI series against India. Nicholas Pooran will once again hold the key to the West Indies fortune. He gets the support of Shimron Hetmyer, who is back in the squad after proving his fitness. The question is, can others – especially the bowlers – improve their game too?
West Indies WWLLL (last five T20Is completed, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Hetmyer is back in the West Indian T20I squad after passing a fitness test. Evin Lewis continues to miss, so West Indies will likely persevere with the opening combination of Kyle Mayers and Brandon King.
West Indies (probably): 1 Kyle Mayers, 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran (capt & wk), 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Rovman Powell, 6 Jason Holder, 7 Odean Smith/Dominic Drakes/Romario Shepherd, 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Akeal Hosein , 10 Obed McCoy, 11 Hayden Walsh Jr
India seems to have found all the pieces of the puzzle. Now it’s about putting them in the right place. With KL Rahul not available, will they keep opening with Pant? Has Deepak Hooda, with his all round play with the bat and handy offspin, pimped Shreyas Iyer for a mid-order slot? Who will lead the spin attack in the absence of Yuzvendra Chahal? Looks like we’ll have to wait until race day to find the answers.
India (probably): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Rishabh Pant (wk), 3 Deepak Hooda/Shreyas Iyer, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Dinesh Karthik, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 R Ashwin/Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Avesh Khan/Arshdeep Singh
Location and conditions
This will be the first international match to be played at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba. The venue has hosted 31 CPL games, the latest being in 2020. The score percentage in those games was 7.40. However, the weather could be a bummer as there is an 80% chance of rain on Friday morning.
Statistics and trivia
- Both Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja are two strikeouts away from 50 T20I wickets. Only Yuzvendra Chahal (79), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (70), Jasprit Bumrah (69) and R Ashwin (61) took 50 or more wickets for India in T20Is.
- On Wednesday, Martin Guptill (3399) overtook Rohit (3379) as the leading points scorer in T20Is. Both players will be in action on Friday.
- Eleven bowlers have thrown ten or more power playovers in T20Is this year. Of these, Akeal Hosein’s economy of 9.20 is the worst at that stage.
“We’ve played good T20 cricket. We’ve had good matches with India in India. We know the quality they have. Let’s see how we play out on Friday.”
West Indies coach Phil Simmons previews the T20I series
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo