WEST INDIES: ODI cricket, the game’s new dying format, has ended. Welcome to T20Is, the coolest kid on the block, particularly in a year with a T20 World Cup.
This five-match T20I series gives West Indies and India a significant opportunity to solidify their strategies within less than three months until the international event in Australia.
India revised their batting strategy after it could not advance to the knockout stages of the 2021 competition. They have scored 9.45 goals every over this year. Except for 2013, when they only participated in one T20I, this is their best scoring rate in any calendar year. India has scored more points this year than any other squad.
Now that Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Hardik Pandya have returned from ODI rest, India will want to fine-tune their strategy. They have also invited Paddy Upton back as a mental conditioning coach to keep the players in the best possible frame of mind.
West Indies’ forte in recent years has been T20 international cricket. However, they won’t have many of their talents who shone in different T20 leagues throughout the world for the first time. Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, and Kieron Pollard are not in the team.
However, the team will be boosted by their 2-0 victory in the format over Bangladesh and their significantly better performance in the ODI series against India. The success of the West Indies will once again depend on Nicholas Pooran. Shimron Hetmyer, who returned to the team after demonstrating his fitness, will support him. Can other people, especially bowlers, step up their game as well?
Players to watch out for
Shimron Hetmyer: He has demonstrated his fitness, but is he also carrying his form? He performed admirably for Rajasthan Royals during IPL 2022 as a finisher, amassing 314 runs in 15 innings at a strike rate of 153.92. But he hasn’t played any cricket in the two months since then. He has different strike rates in T20Is and T20s, exactly like Pant. His overall strike rate is 133.45, but his overseas strike rate is 118.71.
Rishab Pant: It was not intended for Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant to contend for the same position. However, if India chooses to use Karthik as a specialised finisher, it leaves one less middle-order position open. Pant’s position might be in jeopardy if we view Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, and Hardik Pandya as World Cup lockouts.
Compared to his total T20 strike rate of 145.44, Pant’s strike rate in 50 T20Is is a pitiful 124.27. Is being a left-hander sufficient to earn a spot in the team? Has Karthik then accomplished enough to guarantee his place in the starting XI? He is meant to be the enforcer in the final five overs, but in T20Is this year, his first-ten-ball strike rate is only 81.36. (48 runs off 59 balls). His matching strike rate in the IPL 2022 was 166.67 for comparison (190 runs off 114 balls). India should have a better understanding of this issue after seeing this series.
Hetmyer has rejoined the West Indies T20I team after passing a fitness test. Since Evin Lewis is still out, West Indies will likely continue to start Kyle Mayers and Brandon King at the opening position.
West Indies (Probable XI): 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.
It appears that India has discovered all the puzzle pieces. It’s now a matter of putting them in their proper places. If KL Rahul is unable to play, will Pant still start? Has Deepak Hooda supplanted Shreyas Iyer to a position in the middle order with his versatile hitting abilities and useful off-spin? Who will lead the spin attack if Yuzvendra Chahal isn’t present? We might have to wait until the big game to learn the answers.
India (Probable XI): 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.