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There was a lot of hope from the West Indians coming into their favored format of cricket. The squad assembled had the look of a first choice side with some of their T20 superstars returning to service. Unfortunately, the West Indian players realized that the step up from franchise cricket to international cricket can be pretty steep too.
The first match was played on an excellent cricket wicket in Kolkata. There was pace and bounce on offer which actually made life difficult for both sets of the batsmen. India managed to prevail after a slight scare and lead 1-0 in the series.
The West Indies must win the next match if it is to keep the series alive and to have any hope of winning this series.
There were a couple of surprise selection decisions by India which indicated their point of thinking going forward in this series. Perhaps, the biggest selection decision was to drop Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been India’s and one of the world’s best bowlers in the shortest format of the game over the last year.
Shreyas Iyer found himself warming the bench once again while Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was also not fully fit to be considered for selection.
We don’t think India is going to experiment with its playing eleven too much in this match. The series is very much alive and they would want the newer players in the side to get some sort of extended run.
The bowling for India was quite impressive. Jasprit Bumrah and Khaleel Ahmed were very impressive while Umesh Yadav managed to get some good pace as well. The two spinners, Krunal Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav were the difference between the two sides, though.
Krunal Pandya was making his debut but he never once looked like someone who was nervous or unsure about his game. He bowled excellent lines and varied his pace nicely. The most impressive thing was that he did not seem worried even when Pollard hit him for a six.
Krunal Pandya is a superb player who could be knocking on the doors of ODI team selection very soon as well.
Kuldeep Yadav has been a superb wicket-taker for India. He comes on to bowl in the middle overs and picks wickets almost every single time. It is his form and value to the side which has resulted in Yuzvendra Chahal losing his place in the side.
We can see Hardik Pandya fitting in this side as the third seamer and providing more balance to the side in the time to come as well.
While India was excellent with the ball, they faltered a bit in their small chase of 110. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan fell prey to an excellent spell from Oshane Thomas while KL Rahul, Rishab Pant, and Manish Pandey played poor shots.
Rishab Pant, in particular, seemed very ordinary just trying to slog the ball out of the park.
Thankfully, Dinesh Karthik and Krunal Pandya combined to make sure India did not suffer any blushes but a wake-up call would have been served to the entire squad.
This Indian side has an excellent bowling attack but its batting is a little top heavy. Like in the ODI’s, the T20 side also has some middle order issues to be solved which could be exploited by the opposition.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, RR Pant, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, JJ Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed.
The West Indies were hit by the unavailability of Andre Russell just before the match began. He had apparently not recovered completely from his injury and decided not to fly out to India at all. The lack of a quality all-rounder like him from the side is going to be hard to replace.
Still, we thought the West Indies had enough depth in its squad to put up a strong playing eleven. Some interesting selection decisions were made, which could reap reward in the games to follow.
It is easy to write off the West Indies on the basis of their performance in the first match. That poor batting performance came on a pitch with some assistance to the bowlers as was later shown by the Indian batting performance as well.
The tables could easily have been turned if India would have batted first.
To be more competitive in the next match, the West Indies needs to find more runs from its batsmen. Denesh Ramdin and Shai Hope opened the batting for the side. Shai Hope was in excellent form during the ODI’s and deserved this spot but we are not too sure about Ramdin.
He has made a name for himself playing aggressive innings down the order in CPL but opening the batting against a quality bowling attack is another kettle of fish altogether.
Hetmyer, Pollard, Bravo, and Powell followed the openers as the heart of the West Indian batting.
We think this is a very dangerous lineup that can be very difficult to face on a good batting wicket. Hetmyer has shown how dangerous he can be while batting at 4 is the right choice for Pollard. He did the same in the CPL this year and had his most productive season yet.
Darren Bravo got out to a very poor shot in the last match and he is perhaps the one batsmen batting a bit out of position. He too scored lots of runs and played some blistering innings in the CPL batting in the lower middle order.
In India, though, where the spinners are if a much higher quality he will need to find a way to rotate the strike regularly in between playing the big shots.
Rovman Powell has the backing of the West Indian management. He has had a terrible time against the spinners in the ODI’s and the same trend continued in the T20 matches as well. We don’t think he is going to be much of a factor in this series.
The biggest advantage that the West Indies has is the depth in its batting. Craig Braithwaite, Fabien Allen, Keemo Paul, and Khary Pierre can all wield the bat. On a good batting strip or during a tense chase, this batting capability could come in very handy.
The bowling performance from Oshane Thomas, Craig Braithwaite, and Khary Pierre was very encouraging in the last match. The West Indians just did not have a big enough total to defend otherwise they had the Indians on the mat.
Things could be very different on a flat batting wicket, though, where someone like Braithwaite could be the perfect pace to attack and Oshane Thomas’s extra pace could work against him.
Shai Hope, Denesh Ramdin, Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Nicholas Pooran, Keemo Paul, Carlos Brathwaite, F Allen, Khary Pierre, Oshane Thomas.
The side winning the toss is likely to field first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
This match being played in Lucknow is going to be the first international match played at the Ekana International Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. There have been only two first-class games played on the surface before this so the surface is going to be a bit of a mystery.
We think, though, that a flat batting wicket with some turn on offer should be expected. The soil in the area is conducive for spin and rarely provides much pace or bounce.
A high scoring match should be seen.
The West Indian T20 specialists would have been taken aback at the kind of pitch they encountered in the last match. Their biggest challenge will be to find a way past the Indian spinners. If they can do that then they definitely have the capability of pulling off an upset.
With the odds being offered on the West Indies, we recommend backing them for a victory in this match.
Back the West Indies to win.
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