After enduring another semi-final exit in the World Cup, Team India will hit the pitch for the first time when they lock horns with West Indies in the first T20I in Lauderhill, Florida on Saturday. The Virat Kohli-led Indian unit will take this opportunity to prepare themselves up for the T20 showpiece event, which will be played in Australia, late next year.
Virat Kohli, who was expected to be rested, will lead a full-strength squad against Windies. However, Jasprit Bumrah will join the side ahead of the Test series beginning from August 22, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been rested for the entire tour.
Before leaving for the tour, Kohli stated that the main focus of the limited-overs series against the West Indies is to try out the fringe players who are on selectors’ mind. Thus, it will be a crucial couple of weeks for Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey, who are back in the team after being sidelined from India’s 50-over World Cup plans.
SQUAD 👊💯 pic.twitter.com/2uBjgiPjIa
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) August 2, 2019
With the fragile middle-order being exposed on numerous occasions during the World Cup, it is a great opportunity for both the batsmen to make their case in the coming matches. The duo were a part of India A squad and have been roped in the main squad based on their dominant display during the recently-concluded A series.
In the bowling department, spin all-rounder Washington Sundar, pacers Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar are back in the T20 squad. Speedster Navdeep Saini and Rahul Chahar are the other two domestic starts in line to make their India debut.
Coming into the side after recovering from a thumb injury sustained during the World Cup, Shikhar Dhawan is likely to open the innings with Rohit Sharma. The Indian vice-captain, who emerged as the leading run-scorer in the World Cup, would be keen to carry that form.
All eyes will also be on Rishabh Pant with the selectors backing him as the number one wicketkeeper in all formats amid little clarity over the future of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 1, 2019
Despite being ranked as one of the most dangerous side in the shortest format, India will go into the match as favourites.
The explosive Kieron Pollard and spinner Sunil Narine are back in the side though Chris Gayle will only be seen in the ODIs. Injury-prone Andre Russell too has been named in the T20 squad.
Coach Floyd Reifer expects the series to be high on entertainment. “The team is young, and we like to mix the experienced players with the youth. We have a very good blend. We are looking forward to the matches here in Florida. It should be a very exciting weekend, we lots of entertainment for the fans,” Reifer said ahead of the series.
West Indies: John Campbell, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicolas Pooran, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Carlos Brathwaite (c), Keemo Paul, Sunil Narine, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Anthony Bramble, Andre Russell, Khary Pierre
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini
With inputs from PTI