Fresh from beating arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening game, India continue their ICC World Twenty20 Super 10s campaign against reigning champions the West Indies.
If anybody knows Indian players well, it is none other than the boys from the Caribbean. A lot of their players turn out for different IPL teams and so they have a fair bit of knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of India players - and vice versa. This is why the match between India and West Indies becomes even more interesting.
West Indies are the defending champions and are in red hot form winning both the warm up games quite convincingly against Sri Lanka and England. The batting looks quite good and dangerous too.
On the other hand India started their campaign with a thumping win against Pakistan and their confidence level will be sky high now. That win was a much needed one for India after the disappointing results from the tours of South Africa and New Zealand.
It does not take much to change the course of the game when Chris Gayle is at the crease. He is arguably the most dangerous T20 batsman in ther world and if he gets going the match might be wrapped up quite quickly. India will definitely be wary of him and would like to see the back of him as soon as possible.
He is probably the only bowler who can create some problems for the Indian batsmen. Narine has so many variations up in his sleeve that it will be hard for Indian batsmen to take him on straightaway. His four overs will be very crucial and his team would like him to take couple of wickets during the middle overs.
Plenty of All Rounders
West Indies are blessed with a bunch of all-rounders especially made for T20 cricket. Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuals and Andre Russell are all very handy bowlers and explosive batsmen which provides a lot of depth and flexibility to the team. India had better watch out.
A Settled Opening Pair
Dwayne Smith’s contribution to this West Indies team in this format is impressive but the player is not much talked about, probably due to the charisma or the aura his opening partner Gayle has. Together, they make a deadly opening combination which more often than not provides a flying start.
Their bowling attack is a concern for the team as they don’t have wicket-taking bowlers (except Narine) and if you are playing against India, you cannot contain them for long. They do have a couple of medium pacers like Bravo, Sammy, Russell but the Indians have played them a lot during the IPL and will be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
With no express bowlers in the West Indies attack, Raina will just love the pace of West Indies bowlers but has to be cautious against Narine. If he can play out Narine, West Indies may have to face the carnage that Pakistan already faced in their first game. Raina is a key player and can step up the run rate any time, not to forget his contributions in the field.
You can never write him off whatever the format may be. This guy hardly puts a step wrong and the more you watch him, the more you admire his sensibility that reflects in his batting. He is the nucleus of India’s batting and does not possess any weaknesses. West Indies had better watch out.
The Indian spin trio looked very good against Pakistan where they conceded only 63 runs in 12 overs and took three crucial wickets. If they can repeat the same against Gayle and co., India will be in safe hands. With Ravichandran Ashwin all set to open the bowling against Gayle, that passage of play might determine the course of the match.
With a win under their belt and that too against Pakistan, the confidence of the team will be quite high. India will be reasonably happy with the performance of their openers in the first match which was an area of concern before the start of the game but if the openers can provide a solid platform, MS Dhoni and his men possess the firepower to take the score beyond the reach of West Indies.
Form of Yuvraj
The form (or lack of it) of Yuvraj Singh is a concern for the team; he was average on the field and scored only one against Pakistan. He was the biggest match winner for India in the 2007 event and an in-form Yuvraj will be an asset to this team. India wants Yuvraj to fire with bat and bowl a couple of overs in the middle if required.
Death bowling will be a concern for India once again. With Dhoni not relying on Bhuvneshwar Kumar during the death overs, India has no other options but to bowl a spinner along with Mohammad Shami during that period which is a bit of a lottery. India has to find an answer for this problem quickly if they want to be consistently successful.
With both teams in the right spirit, the game promises to be a cracker. Both have played only thrice against each other, West Indies emerged as winners on both occasions while India won the last match.
I will back India to win the match simply because they have a more balanced side as compared to West Indies and the win against Pakistan would have done their confidence a world of good but you cannot count anybody out in T20 especially when the West Indies are your opponents.
© Cricket World 2014