Life without MS Dhoni starts for India and other talking points ahead of T20 series

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Rishabh Pant could take the gloves for India on Sunday.

After India triumphed 3-1 over the West Indies in the five-match ODI series, the two sides will now turn their attentions to the T20s which get underway at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.

With India skipper Virat Kohli handed a rest, Rohit Sharma will lead the men in blue in the three-match T20 series.

As the two sides get ready to battle it out at the iconic Eden Gardens, we look at the talking points ahead of the clash.

WINDIES SEEK T20 COMFORTS

While the Test and the ODI series might have gone the way of India comprehensively, the visitors will be a different beast in the T20 format.

The reigning ICC World Twenty20 champions, the Windies will welcome back their stalwarts Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard into the fold for the three-match series.

The experienced T20 stalwarts should provide the perfect complement to the West Indies’ mercurial young talents in the form of Shimron Hetmyer, Oshane Thomas and Obed McCoy.

The visitors would have backed themselves to hurt India the most in the T20 format before the start of their tour and now it remains their only chance to salvage something from their visit.

With India missing Kohli, the tourists will back themselves to bring down the curtains on an otherwise disappointing tour with a victory.

T20 bigwigs like Andre Russell return for the Windies.

T20 bigwigs like Andre Russell return for the Windies.

LIFE WITHOUT DHONI STARTS FOR INDIA

India’s selectors sprung a major surprise when they announced the T20 squad for the series against both the Windies and Australia. Veteran wicketkeeper batsman MS Dhoni’s was a glaring omission from the squad with Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik preferred in the position.

The absence of the veteran of 93 T20 matches for India will loom large over the Eden Gardens clash as Pant and Karthik get a run-out. While calls for axing Dhoni from the limited-overs squads had been growing of late, it is only now that the selectors have made the first move as they look ahead to the 2020 World Twenty20 in Australia.

With Dhoni out of the picture, it will be up to Pant and Karthik to stake their claims for a permanent role and the series against the Windies could very well establish the frontrunner between the two.

Dinesh Karthik is in direct competition with Rishabh Pant.

Dinesh Karthik is in direct competition with Rishabh Pant.

CHANCE FOR INDIA’S FRINGE PLAYERS TO IMPRESS

With the countdown to the 2019 World Cup in England picking up pace, the race for the spots in the India side is well and truly on. The three T20s against the Windies will provide another platform for the men in blue to test their various combinations for the global showpiece next year.

One man who will be desperate to score some runs is KL Rahul, who has been out of favour in the ODI format of late. The right-hander has a chance to reaffirm his credentials in Kohli’s absence. He will face a tough fight for a spot in the playing XI along with young Shreyas Iyer as well as Manish Pandey.

Another man who will be itching to make his mark is all-rounder Krunal Pandya, who has been handed a maiden India call-up. He is not the only player to receive his first international call-up for India with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem in the fray too.

Whether they play on Sunday remains to be seen but expect the Indian team management to give everyone a run-out in the series before their departure for a long and tough tour of Australia.

KL Rahul has another chance to stake his claim.

KL Rahul has another chance to stake his claim.

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