In a cruel scheduling twist, what should be a despondent West Indies team has been kept waiting for five days, through the Diwali festivities, for a dead T20 rubber after having won only one of their nine international matches on the tour. Life left them when they admittedly spent themselves leveling one and winning another ODI in the middle of the tour. A bunch of hidings followed. It is difficult not to have your mind on the flight back home at such times.
The talk when the limited-overs leg of the tour began and now even is around those who are not here. Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Lendl Simmons. There is also fear that Shmiron Hetmyer and Shai Hope – the two shining lights of the ODI series – might not be making a similar trip, say next year, if they keep doing so well and get picked up by T20 leagues. With the IPL auction a month or so away, die-hard fans of the team from the Caribbean will be hoping neither of them scores a hundred or such like.
How will they, though? Made to bat out of position in T20s because there are no openers making this trip, even Hope and Hetmyer seem like they have been left with too much to do.
The series won, India have rested key bowlers with the Australia tour on their minds. So pardon us if the build-up to this T20 international, the final match of the tour, is not hysterical.
Once the coin goes up, though, the intensity will too. The thing with Indian grounds is, there are so many that each ground is lucky if it gets one international match a year. This is Chennai’s first in about 14 months. Expect another big crowd even though their beloved MS Dhoni is not part of the Indian side.
India WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LLLLW
In the spotlight
It’s not often that Shikhar Dhawan goes through such a long stint – especially against an opposition not at its best – without a big score. Five ODIs and two T20Is have gone by, and he doesn’t even have a single half-century. In the T20Is, he has looked scratchy. Oshane Thiomas has bowled him three times in the limited-overs leg of the tour. This is Dhawan’s chance to get a big innings in.
Hope and Hetmyer. Not that they weren’t seen as the future before the tour – Hope especially was – but they have shown that they have the game for slower surfaces too. Hetmyer in particular has been good at hitting spinners. Indian audiences have enjoyed watching them, and they will like to leave the country with a final reminder of their abilities.
India have rested Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Umesh Yadav. This could bring a chance for Washington Sundar at his home ground. It will be interesting to see if they give Shreyas Iyer a chance now that the series is sealed.
India (possible): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt.), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 KL Rahul, 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Washington Sundar, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
West Indies played two wicketkeepers in the last game. Given Denesh Ramdin’s form, they could bring back allrounder Rovman Powell and give Nicholas Pooran the gloves.
West Indies (possible): 1 Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran (wk), 3 Shimron Hetmyer, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Carlos Brathwaite (capt.), 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Fabian Allen, 10 Khary Pierre, 11 Oshane Thomas
Pitch and conditions
The Chennai pitch usually helps spin, but you never can tell with the dew around.
Stats and trivia
West Indies’ win-loss ratio of 0.959 in Twenty20 internationals (47 wins and 49 losses) is the 10th-best in the world. However, they have won two World T20s, and continue to feed some of the best players of the format to leagues around the globe. A sign of the relevance of Twenty20 internationals outside the World Cups?
This is only the second T20 international in Chennai. Six years ago, New Zealand beat India by one run here. Rohit Sharma was India’s No. 6 batsman back then.
“When you look at our World T20 players, they’re in demand all over the world, so yes, we’re suffering in that aspect. Our senior players did not turn up for the tour, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re 2-0 down in this series.”
Denesh Ramdin tries to make sense of West Indies’ results