India's post-2019 World Cup era begins with the first T20I against West Indies on Saturday, August 3, at Lauderhill in Florida, United States of America. The 3-match T20I series holds great importance in view of the World T20 to be held next year. West Indies, a weaker team in the longer formats packs a great punch in the shortest. Hence, it promises to be an action-packed close contest.
When one thinks of West Indian T20 cricket, names such as Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis flash across the mind. But for the first two T20Is, the team that the Windies are likely to field has many new names also. While Evin Lewis, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine will provide much-needed experience, the captain Carlos Brathwaite may energise the team with his leadership.
Big-hitting Rovman Powell will provide even more explosive content to the XI if he gets in. Cricket fans would also be excited to see the two great West Indian young talents – Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran – in action.
The bowling attack will benefit from the presence of Oshane Thomas, a genuinely quick bowler who has come up with some brilliant performances this year in limited-overs cricket. The return of Andre Russell and Keemo Paul will further boost the capability of the pace battery with the army man Sheldon Cottrell in the mix too.
The presence of Narine in the team might provide much needed variation and experience. Though, it could be said that years of playing in the IPL and change of action has made the off-spinner half the threat he used to be some years ago.
It would be interesting to see which of the new names in the Indian squad get a go. Spinners Washington Sundar and Rahul Chahar – both 19 years old – would love an opportunity but they have the veteran Ravindra Jadeja and the upcoming Krunal Pandya in front of them. The latter has been making rapid strides in limited-overs cricket and performed well for India A recently against their West Indian counterparts.
Rahul's brother Deepak is also in the squad, as is Khaleel Ahmed and also Navdeep Saini. With Jasprit Bumrah being given a rest, there will be at least one of them, if not two in the XI. They will be led by the experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The composition of the attack will, obviously, depend on the conditions.
As far as India's batting is concerned, the big three – Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan – are back. KL Rahul is likely to be in the side also as it was here in 2016 that he scored a hundred. Rishabh Pant easily gets in as the only full-time wicketkeeper. Then we come to the two vacant spots in the middle order. Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer should get an opportunity but if India choose an all-rounder to bat in top-7, then only one of them would get a go.
The vagaries of T20 cricket and the mercurial nature of West Indian players means that it's impossible to predict what will happen. The pitch, usually, at this ground tends to be flat, so expect big scores.
Schedule and live coverage
The match begins at 10:30 AM local time, 2:30 PM GMT and 8:00 PM IST. The live coverage of the game would be provided by Sony Ten 1 in Hindi and Sony Ten 3 in English. Sony Ten 1 HD and Sony Ten 3 HD will also have live telecast of the match. For those who will be watching online, the streaming platform is Sony LIV. However, one would need premium membership of this website to access live coverage.