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December 14 2018
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04 November 2018

India will be looking at its current No. 2 ranking in the ICC list to fire itself up for the challenge.

Having dominated West Indies in two formats — the Tests and ODIs — India is up against a perceived giant as the format shrinks to T20Is.

West Indies, the defending T20 World champion, will have a new captain and a refurbished squad to challenge the host, which strives to maintain its sway going into the final leg of the bi-lateral series which begins here at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.

With Virat Kohli rested ahead of the bigger battles down under, India’s stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma will have the task of improving India’s record against the visitors. 

The home team has won only two of the eight games, losing five; one match ended as ‘no result’. India will be looking at its current No. 2 ranking in the ICC list to fire itself up for the challenge.

Fond memories

Brathwaite will have fond memories of the ICC World T20 where he smashed four consecutive sixes in a stay of 10 balls to douse the English hopes in the final at the same venue in 2016. This will certainly inspire West Indies which has reworked the squad, bringing in quite a few T20 specialists.

Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin and Andre Russell join Brathwaite in the battle. However, Russell remained conspicuous by his absence on the eve of the opening match. 

Russell did not make it to the pre-match practice, apparently because he didn’t take the connecting flight from Delhi on his journey from Dubai. The allrounder is expected to join the squad later in the evening.

The India captain will be looking to lead by example at a venue where he set a few landmarks. Apart from notching up the ODI record of 264 in 2014, Rohit has a Test century (177) and two IPL titles, making the venue his favourite. 

Rohit was the most prolific scorer after captain Kohli in the preceding ODIs where he struck a couple of big hundreds and a 63.

He led India to the title in the Asia Cup in the UAE where he collected 317 runs in five innings to suggest that leadership comes naturally to him.

Dhoni’s absence

The nonpareil M.S. Dhoni has not been picked for the T20Is. The iconic player captained the country to the World titles in both the ODI and T20 formats and continued to contribute and motivate the side despite relinquishing the captaincy. Immensely popular here, he will be badly missed by the fans.

Dhoni’s absence gives way to Rishabh Pant, the new wicketkeeper-batsman, who is making big news with his recent performances. Pant will be taking his position behind the stumps, while his senior Dinesh Karthik will be adding strength to the team’s middle-order. 

This apart, the side will expect K.L. Rahul, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the ICC’s batting rankings, to come good. Shikhar Dhawan also has a chance to re-establish his credentials after a moderate outing in the one-dayers. This will also be an occasion for all-rounder Krunal Pandya to showcase his talents.

The teams (from): 

India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed and Yuzvendra Chahal.

West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite (Capt.), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas, Khary Pierre, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran.

 

 

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