Will return of West Indies’ T20 specialists surprise Virat Kohli-less India?
Carlos Brathwaite returns to the venue where he took West Indies to World T20 glory in 2016. (AFP Image)

Test matches and one-dayers aside, West Indies are at their best in T20Is. The two-time World T20 champions possess a new and promising-looking squad that has what it takes to beat India as the two teams square off in the first of the three T20Is on Sunday at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.

Speaking of which, West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite returns to the venue where he tonked four consecutive sixes to win West Indies the World T20 two year back. Brathwaite isn’t the only positive for India. The big-hitting allrounder will lead a side that will see the likes of Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo, which surely provides a shot in the arm for the West Indies.

The three players might be returning to the side after a long gap, but their experience of playing various T20 leagues across the world promises to increase the visitors’ chances. Add to that the youngsters Obed McCoy, Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas who played the ODIs, and will have no shortage of confidence. However, West Indies are coming off series losses against New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh, suggesting that their run in 2018 hasn’t been the most inspiring.

India, on the other hand, have failed to win the last four T20Is against West Indies and last won against them during the World T20 in 2014. They will be without Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, which means that it’s two more spots available in the middle order for players to try and solidify. Ideally, KL Rahul is the most suited to bat at No. 3, but with Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer in the side, it can be a three-way battle. Rishabh Pant also adds to the tricky middle order combination.

Date: Sunday, November 4

Time: 730 PM IST

Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

Weather: Clean skies with humid conditions

Team News

India

Given that it’s the first game of the series and Eden Gardens, India might want to play safe. Rahul should ideally be their No. 3 followed by either Dinesh Karthik or Shreyas Iyer at No. 4 for the kind of form he had shown during the Vijay Hazare Trophy scoring 373 runs in six innings. Krunal Pandya is in line to make his India debut after being named in India’s 12-member team and his inclusion can give India the option of playing three pacers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Khaleel Ahmed – and two spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Probable XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma (capt), 3 KL Rahul, 4 Shreyas Iyer/Dinesh Karthik, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Krunal Pandya, 7 Kuldeep Yadav, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Khaleel Ahmed, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

West Indies

Rovman Powell opened in the final ODI against India and he will most likely be partnered at the top by Nicholas Pooran who is coming off an impressive CPL campaign. Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer should ideally at 3 and 4, followed by Kieron Pollard. Denesh Ramdin at 7 gives them batting depth. Fast bowlers Obed McCoy and Oshane Thomas should be automatic picks following the promise they’d shown in the ODIs.

Probable XI: 1 Rovman Powell, 2 Nicholas Pooran, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Khary Pierre, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Carlos Brathwaite (capt), 9 Fabian Allen, 10 Oshane Thomas, 11 Obed McCoy

Stats and Trivia

- India have lost their last four T20I matches against West Indies.

- West Indies have a 5-2 record against India between 2009 and 2017.