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This West Indian tour of India started out with the visiting team’s weakest format and is now ending with its strongest. The three T20 matches between the West Indies and India are about to begin and we have a feeling we are going to be in for a real treat.
After being completely outclassed in the test matches, the Windies struck back hard in the ODI’s. They folded meekly in the last two games but matched India blow for blow in the first three. Now, the Windies have an even stronger squad with the return of some of their best players to this format.
It is no secret that the West Indians prefer the T20 format to all others and have games that fit perfectly into the requirements of T20 cricket.
What about India, though?
The home team is no slouch in T20 cricket either and is the current second-ranked team in the world. They are going to be missing Virat Kohli but have also chosen a side that is filled with proven T20 performers.
We anticipate a series which will be exciting and extremely closely fought.
Some of India’s biggest strengths are transferred as is between formats. The core of their batting strength remains the same while their bowling attack is almost identical to the one that takes the field in ODI cricket.
It is a testament to the adaptability of the players that they are able to change their game as per the requirements without missing a beat.
India’s top-3 of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli is one of the best top-3 to have ever played the game. With Virat Kohli missing this series, India loses significantly in batting strength but still has the depth to be able to put up a formidable display.
Lokesh Rahul, the player that is most likely going to replace Kohli at 3, is himself rated as one of the best players in T20 cricket in the world. That he has not been able to cement a place for himself in ODI cricket is a source of great frustration to everyone involved.
Still, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Lokesh Rahul are a very dangerous top-3 that will be the core of the Indian batting strength. These three select themselves and it is the rest of the side that can be selected in quite a few different ways.
We think that Shreyas Iyer, Rishab Pant, and Dinesh Karthik are the most likely candidates for 4,5, and 6 in the playing eleven. There is also Manish Pandey who could slot in the side in place of either Iyer or Karthik but it looks like he will have to wait for an opportunity.
We think India will want to play an all-rounder at number 7. This makes Krunal Pandya the most likely starter with Washington Sundar in the squad waiting for a chance.
That leaves four bowlers to pick and India is most likely to go for Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, and Kuldeep Yadav. This leaves Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Shahbaz Nadeem waiting in the wings.
The Indian team could easily pick some of the players we think will be on the bench and not lose anything in strength. If the Indian side wins the first two games easily or loses the first game badly, then we could some changes being rung up but Rohit Sharma as a captain believes in having a stable playing eleven in most cases.
This is a strong Indian side with plenty of batting depth and some excellent bowling resources. They are also very good in home conditions. Beating India is not going to be easy.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, RR Pant, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, JJ Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Yadav.
The West Indies would have been buoyed by their performance in the ODI’s but this is the format they would feel they have a real chance of beating India. The side that has been picked to play India has been chosen from the best performers of the CPL and looks very strong on paper.
The biggest strength that the West Indies have is their power hitting. They are stacked to the gills with players that can clear the field with ease. In the shortest format of the game, the Windies don’t have to worry about keeping wickets intact and can really go for it.
The WIndies also have a couple of different ways in which they can go about picking their side but here is what we think will happen.
Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer are the two players that are likely to open the batting, followed by Darren Bravo. Lewis has scored two centuries against India in the past but did not have a very productive CPL. His form is going to be a slight concern to the WIndies going into this match and further in the series.
Shimron Hetmyer has no such problems. He smashed a hundred and a brilliant 94 in the ODIs. He also enjoyed a very productive CPL where he was absolutely terrific, even scoring a hundred, and showing why he is regarded as one of the best young batsmen in the Caribbean today.
The real surprise of the CPL was Darren Bravo. He never seemed to fulfill the expectations of him as a T20 player until recently when he has just started to go off from ball one. Bravo has all the shots in his game and could be the one to take India down in this series.
Following these three is a middle order that will comprise of Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, and Rovman Powell. All three of these players are capable of clearing any boundary in the world. They are all also capable of bowling in the match to provide some incredible stability to the West Indian side.
With these three in the middle order, there is no target that is going to be safely out of the reach of the Windies.
Carlos Brathwaite and Denesh Ramdin are also going to be part of the lineup. Braithwaite is the skipper and very much in the mold of the other all-rounders in the side. His bowling has improved recently although his power hitting has not quite come on the way as was expected.
We think that Fabien Allen, Obed McCoy, and Oshane Thomas will be the three primary bowlers in the side with Andre Russel, Carlos Braithwaite, and Kieron Pollard all chipping in as well.
This is a ferocious and formidable West Indian side. The bowling is perhaps a bit of a weak spot but Oshane Thomas brings pace, Obed McCoy brings variation, and the others have a lot of T20 experience to call upon as well.
We don’t think the fact this series is going to be played in India where a good performance can get you a hefty IPL contract should be discounted either.
Rovman Powell, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite, Keemo Paul, F Allen, Khary Pierre, Oshane Thomas.
The side winning the toss is likely to want to field first
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The first match of the series is going to be played in Kolkata. The pitch at the Eden Gardens has been very good for cricket in the last few years. There is always some grass on the surface and good bounce as well.
This means that there are plenty of runs to be had if the batsmen get in but there is always some encouragement for the fast bowlers to bend their backs too. The Eden Gardens was the highest scoring venue in the IPL last year and we expect another high scoring match this time around.
A score of around 180 should be seen as par although seeing something in the region of 200-210 would not surprise us either.
Both sides are very strong with India having the better to-order but West Indies have the advantage of having world-class all-rounders in its side. The batting strength gets almost equalized but India does have the better bowling attack. The West Indies have beaten India in their last three completed matches as well.
The odds on the West Indies to win are currently more than tripling your betting amount and that is just too good a price to pass up.
Back the West Indies to win.
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