India and West Indies continue their build up to the next T20 World Cup on Friday when the two sides meet in the second of the three scheduled matches in Kolkata, a day where the series happens to be on the line.
India go into this second match knowing that if they win it they will win the series with a match to spare. If you include the ODIs which went before it West Indies are without a win in four games on this tour and will be eager to make amends here.
I guess when you change personnel it is hard to get the perfect performance first up so India will probably be pleased with winning the opening match. They won it with a fair bit to spare so if there is some natural improvement to come from those who came in cold then they are going to take all the beating. You would imagine they will be eager to impose themselves on the middle overs with the bat a little more moving towards the World Cup but there is time for that to happen.
The one huge positive for the Indians is the leg spin options they have. Ravi Bishnoi came in and made his debut in the first game and added his name to the bowling depth. He was clearly nervous in that opening match so he is likely to improve as the series goes along. As far as the ball is concerned the improvement could come at the death but that is a tough call because it can be so hard to bowl to these powerful West Indies batters when they have nothing to lose.
This is the format West Indies generally play their best cricket in and as such they will be disappointed to lose that first game. They weren’t terrible in that match but just could never truly get themselves ahead of the game and into a position where they could put the game out of the reach of India. They plugged away but you never truly got the thought they were ahead of the contest, although to be fair they did have the rough end of the conditions.
The one thing West Indies will need to do if they are to force a decider in this series is they have to work the leg spinners better. They were trying to hit them out of the park on the few occasions when they were able to read the turn but just rotating the strike and putting them off their lengths would work. The other thing they could do with doing is thinking about things better. Sending Akeal Hosein in to put two left handers at the crease didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
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India could be forced into a change in this match with Deepak Chahar leaving the field early on Wednesday. He got hit by a Kieron Pollard shot and if he is ruled out then Shardul Thakur could come into the side.
West Indies will probably look to find a way to get Jason Holder into their side after he missed the first game having taken a blow to the chest. Fabian Allen didn’t bowl a full quota in the first game and didn’t bat either and with dew in play here he might be the one to miss out.
The opening match yielded 319 runs and I sensed that was the least there could be. West Indies completely came to a standstill in the middle overs and while they are probably never going to launch throughout that time because they are not great players of spin, you would imagine they will work out a way to score a few more runs especially now they have seen the attack and had a run out in the conditions here at Eden Gardens and things like that.
India looked like they had a lot more in the tank with the bat too. Rohit Sharma was just getting going when he was caught right on the boundary and it is hard to see Ishan Kishan struggling with his timing to that level once again. West Indies are likely to have Jason Holder in their side which will extend their batting so I expect a higher scoring contest than we got in that opening match. There will probably naturally be more runs if India bat first so I like the idea of over 318.5 runs coming in once again.
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