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West Indies vs India, 1st T20I Preview: Rohit, Pant & Co back as both teams have one eye on the T20 World Cup

Rohit, Pant & Co back as both teams have one eye on the T20 World Cup
Rohit, Pant & Co back as both teams have one eye on the T20 World Cup

With both Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah rested for the T20Is, the five matches bring a great opportunity for the likes of Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin.

Big guns return

Many of India's white ball regulars will be back in the T20 series after being rested for the three ODIs. The available players include captain Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel.

Rohit Sharma will be back to open the batting for India. With both Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill not part of the T20 squad, it will be interesting to see whether Rishabh Pant or Ishan Kishan is given an opportunity alongside Sharma.

Should Pant open?

India have made an interesting move of promoting Rishabh Pant to the top of the order which is tactically sound and they should persist with it. In fact, India have got a little more time to look at Pant, the opener with KL Rahul first down with injury and now with COVID-19 and unavailable for this tour.

With Virat Kohli being rested for the series, there is room for both Deepak Hooda and Shreyas Iyer in the playing XI with Suryakumar Yadav at 5 and Hardik Pandya at 6. Dinesh Kartik can move down to the number 7 spot which will lengthen India's batting as well.

Ashwin likely to play

Ravichandran Ashwin has been picked in the T20 squad for the first time since the 2021 T20 World Cup and the management will want to have a look at him. In that case, he will play ahead of Axar Patel. Ravindra Jadeja might not be considered due to a niggle.

Harshal Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be the leading pace bowlers for India with support from all rounder Hardik Pandya. Yuzvendra Chahal has also been rested for the T20 series and Kuldeep Yadav, who had a successful IPL but was injured soon after will be seen in action in the T20 series.

Sans Hope, King to open

West Indies too will have several new players coming into the T20 International set up. Kyle Mayers and Brandon King will open the batting for West Indies. Shai Hope who was in good touch in the ODI series is not part of the T20I set up.

Shimron Hetmyer recently passed a fitness test and is most likely to be available for selection. If he is picked, he will have to replace Shamrah Brooks. Rovman Powell will also be seen in action in the T20 Internationals; so will be Jason Holder who has recovered from COVID-19 and played the third ODI.

Onus on Hosein, Paul and McCoy

Keemo Paul and Obed McCoy will be the leading pacers for West Indies in the T20 format. The team will have to decide whether they want to pick Alzarri Joseph as an out and out pace bowler or go with Odean Smith who can provide some big hitting lower down the order as well. In the absence of Gudakesh Motie, Hayden Walsh will be the second spinner for West Indies after Akeal Hosein.

As good as West Indies were in the ODI series, they are expected to be tougher opponents in the T20s which falls in line with their naturally explosive style of cricket.

Predicted Playing XIs

West Indies - Kyle Mayers, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer/Shamarh Brooks, Nicholas Pooran (c & wk), Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Akeal Hosein, Obed McCoy, Hayden Walsh, Alzarri Joseph/Odean Smith

India - Rohit Sharma (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel/R Ashwin, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav

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