India and the West Indies begin a T20 series on Friday which will have a lot of eyes on it for a number of reasons. It is another chance for both teams to impress ahead of the World T20 which is beginning to close in a little, and it is also two weeks out from the IPL auction.
This is the first of a three match series so whichever side draws first blood will be in complete control of proceedings, ahead of the remainder of it over the next few days so this Hyderabad leg of the series is a big occasion.
India go into this match with a record of six wins from their last eight matches in this format of the game, but if they think they are infallible in it as a result of that run, they should only look back to the last series when they were surprised by Bangladesh in the opening game, so that should keep them a little on guard here. They will know they are in for a tough examination anyway because their opponents are the world champions.
India generally use their bowlers to good effect in this format. That is not to say that their batting doesn’t stand up to the test on offer, they have world class batsmen, but they tend to load their side with all-rounders which strengthens their bowling depth to the slight detriment of the batting so there is always pressure on their top order to deliver. That often leads to them taking less risks, which might be why they haven’t achieved what they should have done since they won the first World T20.
This is a big series for the West Indies in my eyes. There are no excuses for them as they look to showcase their skills in the shortest form of the game, a skillset which has made them feared in 20 over cricket for a while, and which won them the last World T20 in this very country. They warmed up for this series with a stint against Afghanistan although it didn’t go too well. West Indies have actually lost eight of their nine T20 internationals in 2019 which is quite some fall from grace for this side.
The West Indies are the exact opposite to their opponents in terms of style. They rely on a number of power packed batsmen to dominate matches and that probably comes to the detriment of their bowling strength. To be fair it is mystery spinners who tend to do the damage in this format of the game and with the exception of Sunil Narine, the Caribbean men haven’t really had any of them who have regularly got the job done at this level, so they probably do have the right tactic.
India have left Shikhar Dhawan out of their squad so it would appear to be a straight choice between Samju Samson and KL Rahul as to who will open alongside Rohit Sharma. They then need to decide whether to play both wrist spinners on a pitch which does actually help the bowlers.
West Indies know they will be without Nicholas Pooran who remains suspended and there is no Chris Gayle or Andre Russell which is a negative. The likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Hayden Walsh Jr and Brandon King will go in search of an IPL deal.
I always think betting in the opening match of series is tough in international cricket because we don’t really know the intensity that the two sides will be at after a pretty heavy period of outings recently. You would expect India to win this match but as I eluded to above, they slipped up against Bangladesh which is another reason why I’m not getting involved in the match outcome itself. I will go with one bet though.
That comes in the performance of the West Indies captain Kieron Pollard, where his line looks low at 30.5. He will know all these Indian grounds from all the years that he has played in the IPL and more importantly he will have faced the Indian bowlers on a number of occasions which could well be significant. He should go well with the bat with that in mind, but as captain and the gun fielder he’ll be in the key positions in the field and he often bowls himself as a captain in the CPL and when he’s stepped in during the IPL. That adds scoring options which makes me think this line will be covered.
WON – Back K.Pollard’s Performance – Over 30.5pts for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365