Having gotten out of jail in their last two matches to somehow make it to the semifinals of the ICC World T20 2016, India cannot afford another not-at-their-best performance. The West Indies are one of the best teams when it comes to the T20 format, and if India catch them on their day, they better be at their absolute best as well.
The batting was looking quite hunky dory coming into this World T20, with Rohit Sharma looking in top form and Shikhar Dhawan playing a nice innings in the Asia Cup final to drive India to the title. While there was a concern over Suresh Raina's form with the bat, you felt on the T20 stage at home, he would come good.
However, that hasn't, unfortunately, been the case. Rohit and Dhawan have been awful at the top, unable to get India off to good starts, while Raina has come and gone quicker than a delivery boy in a rush to complete his deliveries.
That has left India, more often than not, staring at a score of little for three, with Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni then left to do much of the repair work. While Kohli's brilliance in the chase has seen India win two big matches – against Pakistan and Australia, relying on the vice-captain to deliver time and again is a game that is a little too dangerous to play in a semifinal.
West Indies will be aware of India's failings with the bat, and while they will undoubtedly look to bowl first if Darren Sammy wins the toss, they will also know wickets will come their way if they heap early pressure on the openers.
It is up to Rohit and Dhawan to counter that early test, and with the pitch at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai expected to play true and come onto the bat, like the ones in Australia, there really is no reason why they cannot. Rohit and Dhawan are at their best on flat tracks with true bounce, making this pitch, provided it stays similar to the games played in the Super 10 stage, the ideal conditions for them to recapture their form.
If India get off to a bright start, batting first or second, West Indies will find it difficult to contain the home team. Of course, the same could be said the other way around as well, because the last thing the India bowlers will want is an in-the-mood Chris Gayle.
Gayle has not had much opportunity to fire after that brilliant century against England in West Indies' first match of the World T20 – played at the Wankhede – so he is due a big knock, and the India bowlers will need to execute their plans (read R Ashwin) to perfection to get the big man out early.
West Indies are not just about Gayle, though, and with Lendl Simmons coming in for the injured Andre Fletcher, their batting looks a little more stronger. The likes of Andre Russell, Sammy, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo are yet to really set the World T20 alight with their batting, and what better platform to do that than a World T20 semifinal against the hosts.
India vs West Indies World T20 semifinal schedule:
Date: Thursday, March 31.
Time: 7 p.m. IST (2.30 p.m. BST, 1.30 p.m. GMT, 9.30 a.m. ET).
Venue: Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3, Star Sports HD1 and Star Sports HD3. Caribbean: ESPN. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Sports Cricket. UK and Ireland: Sky Sports 2. Australia: Fox Sports. New Zealand: Sky Sport 1. Hong Kong and Singapore: Star Cricket. USA and Canada: Willow TV. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport 2. Malaysia: Astro Cricket HD.