India, West Indies set for battle in cricket’s new land – USA

prv_e9d99_1472227647It’s a short turnaround time for the Indian team to switch from the Test format to Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) when they play their first international game on US soil on Saturday (August 27). Coach Anil Kumble had no qualms in admitting that it won’t be a walk in the park for the MS Dhoni-led side against the current World T20 champions, who have a squad filled with players fresh from the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

Apart from Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah is the only other player to join the Indian T20 squad, while the rest of the 12 members are the ones who recently featured in the four-Test series in the West Indies. While the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane are proven performers in the T20 format, what remains to be seen is how quickly can they shed off their Test cloak and don the one required for the slam-bang format of cricket. The same applies for the bowlers as the margin for error will be minimum for R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Co., with the opposition batsmen looking to attack from the word go.

On the other hand, West Indies have a squad filled with players who came up with good performances during the recently-concluded CPL. In Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle, West Indies have in their team the two players who scored in excess of 400 runs in the CPL 2016, while they also have CPL 2016’s top wicket-taker in Dwayne Bravo. India would also not forget their tormentor Lendl Simmons, who squashed their World T20 hopes a few months back with a match-winning knock in the semi-final.

With the presence of other big names like Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, and considering West Indies’ flair for the shortest format, they no doubt have the ‘team to beat’, which coach Phil Simmons made sure to mention in the press conference, brimming with confidence – contrary to his body language in recent times.

Meanwhile, the T20I series between the two sides at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida ushers a new beginning for cricket in the United States of America. With a fair number of Asian Indians and people of Caribbean ethnicity present in the US, and cricket-starved crowds waiting to see more action, one can expect a big turnout at the only ICC-approved venue in US, when the weekend bonanza kicks off.

When: India vs West Indies, 1st T20I – 7:30 PM IST (10:00 AM Local)

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

What to expect: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms forecast at noon. As far as the pitch is concerned, batsmen should enjoy the conditions here, considering the fact that most of the CPL games held here recently were high-scoring encounters.

Team News:

India:There isn’t any mystery as to who would be the top-three for India with Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli expected to feature in their familiar positions. But the middle-order will be different from the one that was seen during India’s semi-final loss against West Indies. KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane will be vying for spots, as will Stuart Binny and Ravindra Jadeja. So it would be interesting to see what combination Dhoni opts for. In the bowling department Ashwin and Bumrah are shoo-ins, while the other options would depend on Dhoni’s choice of all-rounder/s.

West Indies:The Caribbean team too have more-or-less a straightforward top order with Gayle, Charles, Samuels and Simmons making up the top-four. While Badree and Narine are expected to make up the spin department, the pace options would be from the big bunch of all-rounders in the side, including new skipper Carlos Brathwaite and Test captain Jason Holder, apart from the likes of Bravo, Pollard and Andre Russell.

Did you know:

1: The number of wickets Dwayne Bravo needs to become the first West Indian to reach 50 T20I wickets. He will also become the first West Indian to achieve the combo of 1000 runs and 50 wickets in T20Is.

625: The number of runs scored by Virat Kohli in T20Is in 2016. He averages 125 and has crossed 50 seven times in 12 T20I innings this year.

3: The number of wickets R Ashwin needs to go past Al-Amin Hossain as the highest wicket-taker in T20Is in 2016. Ashwin currently has 25 wickets, while Bumrah has 24.

What they said:

“West Indies is an extraordinary team in the limited-overs format. Sometimes having one allrounder can give you balance. They have two or three. Power-hitters become crucial in the smaller formats, and they have so many of them. They also play an entertaining brand of cricket, so it will be a challenge for us.” – MS Dhoni, India captain.

Squads:

India: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Stuart Binny

West Indies: Andre Fletcher, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite (c), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis, Jason Holder, Johnson Charles, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine

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