After a Test series which was one to forget and then a much more competitive ODI series, West Indies and India turn their attention to the shortest format of the game on Thursday when the first of five T20 internationals is played out in Trinidad.
The first two formats India have had a massive edge on West Indies but that isn’t the case in terms of global titles in the 20 over game so it will be interesting to see whether the home side can come up with the goods here.
While West Indies very much look like they are on the decline in ODI cricket, and the last two T20 World Cups would suggest the same is the case in this format of the game as well, the men from the Caribbean did win their last series in South Africa back in March to suggest they might not be a busted force in the shortest leg of the game just yet. They now need to back that up in this series to convince people they are still a force in this format.
You would imagine this is the format that will be most important to West Indies now. That has probably been the case for a while but it is even more so now because we are less than a year out from a T20 World Cup in this part of the world, one where West Indies will be eager to be more than competitive. This format allows their batters more freedom to express themselves and their bowlers seem much more suited to four over spells rather than 10 over ones.
On the flip side of all that, I think it is fair to suggest that India have other more immediate priorities at the present time than the T20 format. They are just over two months away from a home World Cup in the 50 over sphere and the Asia Cup comes along at the end of the month and just a look at the squad which has been selected for this series will tell us everything about where these five matches sit in their overall thinking.
There is the odd star dotted around in the squad but in the main this is what you would call a second string squad or one for the future. That doesn’t mean that they will be run all over because everyone in the India side will have IPL experience but when you look at the list of names on show I don’t think it is a team which will naturally scare teams. Even so there are still match-winners available and if a couple of those come off India are still more than capable of winning here.
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Rovman Powell found himself dropped for the final two ODIs after a poor run of form but he is the T20 captain so he will come back into the side. Nicholas Pooran is available after playing in Major League Cricket while the likes of Jason Holder, Odean Smith and Akeal Hosein are all in line for selection.
This is a second string side which will be led by Hardik Pandya with Suryakumar Yadav the only really other established batter in the team. India are considering playing a third spinner which could see Kuldeep Yadav getting a game.
I think West Indies could be worth a chance here. There are a lot of players in this India side who are likely to be playing their first match on the tour and might need a match to get into the swing of things and acclimatised to the conditions. I also think that the motivation will be heavily with West Indies and there were signs in that second ODI that their bowlers can get into this India team and I think the attack they use in T20 is much better than the ODI one.
The West Indies players who are coming into the side have been active in the main and they showed in South Africa that while they have disappointed in the previous two T20 World Cup tournaments they can still take any bowling attack in the world apart when they are on their day. The wickets at the Brian Lara Stadium usually suit the batters which will help West Indies and with so many more match-winners in their T20 side than their ODI one the 2/1 on a home win here feels like a big price.
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