After a terribly one-sided ODI series, India and West Indies hit the shortest format of the game on Wednesday when they meet in the first of three T20s which conclude the tour for the men from the Caribbean.
This is a separate series in its own right but we are beginning to see the next T20 World Cup on the horizon so these three matches will allow these two sides the chance to continue their preparation for that.
When you consider the success of the Indian Premier League, the record of the India team in this format of the game has to be taken as quite poor. They won the inaugural T20 World Cup but have done next to nothing in the competition since then. They will be eager for that to change soon and although they host the next 50 over World Cup next year, their focus has to be on the short form of the game given the big dance in Australia is eight months away.
India don’t tend to be able to dominate with the bat in this format of the game. That is a surprise when you consider the exceptional talent that is in the Indian Premier League. I think part of the problem is defining the right roles to the right players and getting their order right. They seem obsessed with playing bits and pieces players too. The good thing is they have an attack for all conditions and they will need that at the World Cup.
This is the format that West Indies are at their best in even if they didn’t show it at the last World Cup. The last time the T20 World Cup was in India they came out as champions though and they are usually ideally suited to the conditions which they face in this neck of the woods. West Indies will need to put their poor showing in the ODIs behind them but we saw how they recovered from a terrible 50 over series against Ireland to beat England in T20s the following week last month that they can do that.
If West Indies are going to be a force both in this series and in the World Cup later in the year then their batting needs to be at top level. Here in India they’ll get away with their smash everything out of the park approach but that is unlikely to get the job done when they get onto the bigger grounds out in Australia so they need to start rotating the strike better than they do. They look to have a very good collection of bowlers who should go well in Australia.
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The makeup of the India side isn’t really known as yet but we do know that KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya will not be a part of it. Ishan Kishan is expected to get the opening berth while Suryakumar Yadav is likely to have a place in the middle order.
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has declared himself fit to play in this opening T20 even though he missed the last two ODIs. That means West Indies could be unchanged from the side which beat England in the final T20 last month.
It is probably no surprise that here at Eden Gardens I like the sixes in this match. We’ve seen throughout history that these are not the biggest boundaries and West Indies won’t need me to remind them that their finest hour came at this venue when they won the T20 World Cup with a flurry of sixes back in 2016. Both these sides have plenty of firepower in their ranks and they both bat pretty deep so I’m expecting a bunch of sixes to be hit here.
The line for this match is 12.5 which doesn’t really feel particularly high for a match involving the West Indies anyway but especially so on this relatively tiny Eden Gardens ground especially when the batters for both sides have had three ODIs to get used to conditions and into a groove. This is generally a high scoring ground and I don’t see that changing here so I’m happy to take over 12.5 sixes in this opening match of the series.
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