The ICC World Twenty20 opener against Pakistan provided the perfect start to India’s campaign. It marked the inaugural champion’s fourth victory over neighbours in the short history of the T20 World Cup. However, Sunday’s game between India and West Indies is expected to be an even contest. Both teams have plenty of utility and specialisation in their ranks. (LIVE UPDATES: India vs West Indies)
Statistically, West Indies have their nose ahead, given their 2-1 win/loss record against India in their three T20 international encounters so far. Nevertheless, India’s all-round performance against Pakistan has provided them momentum, which they would like to sustain against the defending champs on Sunday. (Full Coverage: ICC World T20)
Friday’s tournament opener against Pakistan was a do-or-die situation for Raina, and he backed his selection by playing a mature 35-run knock and taking three sharp catches in the field. Often troubled by the rising ball, Raina played some delightful shots – especially the gentle pull where he was on top of the ball on most of the occasions – against Pakistan quicks. The West Indian bowlers – especially fellow Chennai Super Kings teammate Dwayne Bravo – know a thing or two about the aggressive southpaw, and there will be no dearth of whistle podu in Sunday’s fixture.
The likes of Jadeja and Ashwin have remained the spin mainstays of India for the last two years or so as Dhoni hasn’t really looked to experiment with Amit Mishra in the playing 11. Since his ODI debut in 2003, the 31-year-old leg-spinner has played only 23 games with an overall wicket tally of 40 at an impressive strike rate of 30.7. It was truly surprising that the seasoned bowler, who has played more than 100 T20 games, was playing only his second T20 international on Friday – a game that he truly made his own. A genuine flighter of the ball, Mishra perturbed Pakistan’s frail batting line-up with his crafty leg spin and was duly rewarded for his services with a well-deserved man of the match award. Given the slow nature of the pitch at Mirpur, and keeping West Indies’ weakness for spin in mind, Mishra could turn things around in the high-adrenaline game.
Chris Gayle, touted as the game’s most destructive batsman, in any format, would be looking forward to replicate his performance against England in West Indies’ first practice game on Tuesday. Gayle scripted an evenly poised innings, as he led West Indies to a comfortable win against Stuard Broad’s men. His strike rate of 152.63 spoke volumes about his inimitable ability to score runs at a rapid pace. Known for his jovial attitude on and off the pitch, the Jamaican dasher would also have his team’s humiliating defeat against India a few months ago in mind. The West Indies batsmen – especially Chris Gayle – were heavily criticised for their appalling batting display, as the team failed to put respectable totals on board throughout the Test and ODI series. The stylish left-hander would need to choose his shots cautiously against India’s spin trio, and the new-ball Shami-Bhuvi duo.
The wily 25 year-old-offie possesses a mysterious bowling arsenal, which he assiduously employs against the batsmen. They are left aghast with his crafty temperament and his facile ability to turn and flight the ball at will. He can also flummox batsmen with subtle changes in pace and the ‘doosra’ and carom ball, which he has mastered during the last two years. Although Indian batsmen are regarded the best players of spin – especially in the sub-continent – they cannot afford to take Narine lightly. The pressure would be on Yuvraj Singh – given that he plays the game on Sunday, after a poor showing against Pakistan on Friday – to counter Narine’s spin. The Indian southpaw has been particularly troubled by Narine in the recent past, and West Indies would surely look to bank on this weakness on Sunday.