India vs West Indies 1st T20: Mission T20 World Cup begins In Florida
Virat Kohli and his men kickoff their post World Cup 2019 campaign. (AFP Image)

Seven days short of a month from their heart-breaking semi-final loss to New Zealand in the World Cup, India return to international cricket against the West Indies in T20 action. Between then and now, plenty has transpired. Rumours of rift in the team, uncertainty regarding MS Dhoni’s future or, questions surrounding India’s support staff and pot-shots fired between former cricketers/legends and selectors. Who doesn’t like a bit of drama every now and then?

ALSO READ: Questions for Kohli’s India team before first T20I

All said and done, there’s nothing like resumption post the World Cup hangover. India’s selection for the West Indies series is a clear indication that their priority is the T20 World Cup in Australia a little over a year from now. The likes of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey have returned, while Rishabh Pant is set to take over wicketkeeping duties. Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya have been rested, and in their places, the emergence of young Deepak Chahar and the younger Pandya Krunal have received opportunities to kickstart a campaign set to culminate in Melbourne next November.

ALSO READ: Five head-to-head battles to look out for

At the World Cup, there wasn’t a single game where questions surrounding India’s middle order was not raised. West Indies might be a start to getting it right. With Shikhar Dhawan back in the side post his recovery, he is likely to be back opening the innings, so where does it leave KL Rahul? Does he go back to bat at No. 4, or will India groom one of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey for that slot? What will be the allrounder combination be like? Who among Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya make it to the XI? Or both will? Numerous questions will be answered as India begin mission Australia.

ALSO READ: Rohit eyes Gayle’s record of sixes in T20Is

West Indies have plenty to look forward to as well. There is no Chris Gayle, who has opted to play the ODIs instead after making a U-turn on his retirement. By the time West Indies’ World Cup campaign ended, their promising start went out with a whimper but not without sparks of individual brilliance. Nicholas Pooran has been talked about as the next big thing in West Indies cricket and so is Shimron Hetmyer. Besides, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard return to T20 fold while Andre Russell continues to be plagued by injuries ruling him out of the series.

Also, for the first time since 2016, India and West Indies will play in the USA. West Indies edged India by a run before the second T20I was washed out. What will their second assignment in Florida bring? West Indies have always been a top T20 side and under a dynamic Carlos Brathwaite, whose heroic century against New Zealand is still fresh in the minds, they won’t be pushovers for India.

What: India vs West Indies, 1st T20I

When: Saturday, August 3, 2019

Time: 8:00PM

Venue: Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill, Florida

Weather: A high of 32 degree with showers expected throughout the day

Team News

India

Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are likely to resume their camaraderie at the top of the order meaning the toss up will be between Rahul and Iyer for the No. 4 spot. India may play both allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya to spice up their batting, with Rahul Chahar partnering them as the third spinner. His brother Deepak, Bhuvneshwar and Navdeep Saini are the prime pace contenders.

Probable XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 KL Rahul, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Rahul Chahar, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Navdeep Saini

West Indies

Russell ruled himself out on the match eve as he felt some discomfort while playing in the Global T20 League in Canada forcing West Indies to call up Jason Mohammed as replacement. Pollard is likely to find a place in the XI with the opening duties belonging to Evin Lewis and allrounder John Campbell. West Indies pace battery is expected to go full throttle with Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell and skipper Brathwaite all capable of bowling quick.

Probable XI: 1 John Campbell, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Rovman Powell, 7 Carlos Brathwaite (capt), 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Keemo Paul, 10 Sheldon Cottrell, 11 Oshane Thomas

Stats and Trivia

– Rohit, who has hit 102 sixes in 94 T20Is till now, is just four short of eclipsing the record for maximum sixes in the shortest format, currently held by West Indies batsman Chris Gayle

– Evin Lewis has two T20I centuries against India, one of which came at this very ground in 2016

Quotes

“Dhoni’s experience has always been a crucial factor. But having said that, it’s a great opportunity for Rishabh Pant to really unleash his potential.” – Virat Kohli shows confidence in Pant

“Even against my better judgment, I told him to sit out this series, but he really wanted to play, he really wanted to come and show off his skills and show off what he does in franchise cricket for the West Indies. Unfortunately, he took another knock and he doesn’t think that if he comes here that he’d be doing justice to other people who could be here and are 100 percent.” – Carlos Brathwaite explains Russell’s injury concern