After registering an emphatic victory in the fifth and final ODI against West Indies, Team India would like to end the Caribbean tour on a high with a win in the one-off T20 international at Sabina Park in Jamaica. The onus will once again be on Skipper Virat Kohli who might open the innings for the visitors in absence of Rohit Sharma. Whereas, West Indies will also be bolstered by the presence of world's biggest hitter - Chris Gayle in their ranks for the T20 match.
Despite the presence of T20 marauder - Chris Gayle, India still hold the upper hand over the hosts after the 3-1 win in the five-match ODI series.
The T20 veteran Gayle will be donning the Caribbean Maroons after a gap 15 months during which he has battled injuries as well as a poor form during the IPL, which was his last competitive tournament before this particular game.
West Indies are reigning world champions with the likes of Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree still a part of the current squad led by their World T20 hero Carlos Brathwaite.
Also, there’s Evin Lewis, who had scored a 49—ball—100 in West Indies’ one—run win over India in a T20 game in Florida, last year.
But T20 is one format where the home team starts on an even keel against an Indian team which had its foot firmly on the pedal save an occasional blip in Jamaica.
The change in format may bring about some strategic shift in the playing XI with Kohli expected to open the innings.
Kohli has opened a lot for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and also occasionally for India when Rohit Sharma has not been around.
While Ajinkya Rahane has had a fantastic ODI series with close to 350 runs including a century and three half—tons, Kohli opening the innings with Shikhar Dhawan looks more imminent considering the change in format.
The young Rishabh Pant could finally get his chance on the tour. Pant was a part of the playing XI that last played a T20 match against England in Bengaluru, earlier this year.
The Indian team management is aiming to groom Pant as the future limited—overs gloveman and that’s the reason he may get his chance.
Kuldeep Yadav, who has been a successful T20 bowler for Kolkata Knight Riders, may also make his T20 International debut after an impressive series in which he picked up eight wickets.
Since there has been a pattern in the first XI selection of the Indian team, the last T20 International saw leg—spinner Yuzvendra Chahal pick up six England wickets.
With Chahal not being a part of this squad, the management may go for a wrist spinner in Kuldeep, who has the ability trouble the batsmen with his wrong ‘uns.
IPL’s highest wicket—taker, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, after some well—earned rest, will be leading the pace attack alongside Umesh Yadav.
For West Indies, the onus will be on their spin twins Narine and Badree, who can trouble the Indian batsmen with their variations. Narine may also open the innings, something which he successfully did for KKR in the IPL.
India: Virat Kohli (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Mohammed Shami.
West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite (C), Samuel Badree, Ronsford Beaton, Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton (wk), Kesrick Williams.
(With PTI Inputs)