India will hope their enviable record in bilateral T20I deciders works in their favour when they play host to West Indies in the third and final clash of the series in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Since the advent of T20I cricket, only once have the Men in Blue ever fallen to defeat in the deciding clash of a three-match series. That sole defeat came earlier this year, when they went down to New Zealand by four runs in the Hamilton T20I.
The ongoing series has very much been a battle of equals so far with reigning world champions West Indies storming to an eight-wicket win in the second T20 to level matters at 1-1.
Windies starting to hit all the right notes
Evin Lewis is now 3rd place in Most T20I runs vs India after his well played 40 🔥in the last T20I! Best of luck in the decider match. WI are rallying you on 👏🏽#MenInMaroon #ItsOurGame #INDvWI pic.twitter.com/ohHemzAv19— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) December 9, 2019
If any confirmation was needed about West Indies T20 prowess, it has come in the two previous matches with the visitors going toe-to-toe with India in Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram.
Their past two series against India in the format have both ended in 0-3 defeats, but those displays are a far cry from the one they have put up this time. The intent from their power-packed side which is still missing Andre Russell, has been evident from the very go with the Caribbean side batting with the utmost flair in both clashes.
Opener Evin Lewis has been on fire in the entire series with two identical scores of 40 while he has been excellently backed up by Shimron Hetmyer and Lendl Simmon – the latter guiding Windies to an emphatic win in the second T20 with a sensational knock of 67.
Skipper Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran and Brandon King have also shown their class with the bat when called upon with the visitors not giving India’s bowlers any breathing room throughout.
If they adopt the same fearless approach in the decider, then the sky is the limit for them in terms of runs on a Wankhede stadium pitch which is known to suit batsmen.
India wrestle with Kuldeep dilemma
Bowlers from both the sides have taken quite the hammering in the two clashes with only West Indies’ Sheldon Cottrell able to escape the carnage with a stupendous economy-rate of 6.37.
India’s bowlers have been particularly expensive with seamer Deepak Chahar (12.13) and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (10.28) being the worst culprits. If India are to stop the Men in Maroon from piling up the big runs once again, then a few changes in the bowling attack might be necessary.
Despite all his good work in the preceding series against South Africa and Bangladesh, India will be tempted to drop Chahar and bring in the more experienced Mohammed Shami. However, it is in the spin department that their biggest dilemma lies with Chahal, Washington Sundar and Ravindra Jadeja unable to stamp their authority so far. In fact, their Windies counterparts in Hayden Walsh Jr and Khary Pierre have been much more effective than India’s spin contingent which has looked bereft of solutions against batsmen giving them the charge.
As such, a first T20I appearance for Kuldeep Yadav since February this year, could be on the cards with the left-armed spinner offering something different compared to his peers.
Rohit looks to Mumbai comforts
Rohit Sharma in T20Is since the start of 2019:— Sparsh Telang (@_cricketsparsh) December 8, 2019
1 (5) vs NZ.
50 (29) vs NZ.
38 (32) vs NZ.
5 (8) vs AUS.
24 (25) vs WI.
67 (51) vs WI.
12 (12) vs SA.
9 (8) vs SA.
9 (5) vs BAN.
85 (43) vs BAN.
2 (6) vs BAN.
8 (10) vs WI.
15 (18) vs WI.
Overall, an avg. of 25, SR of 128.96.
By his prolific T20I standards, it has been a tame series so far for Rohit Sharma who has aggregated a mere 23 runs in his two outings. Very rarely does the India deputy skipper go through an entire series without putting on a show and the hosts will hope that it does not prove to be the case on Wednesday.
He remains the only batsmen in the world to register four T20I tons and should he get going at the Wankhede, then no total is too small for India. It is a ground that Rohit knows all too well, given the fact that it’s where he plies his Indian Premier League (IPL) trade for Mumbai Indians.
The Mumbai captain also has an ongoing neck-to-neck race with Virat Kohli to determine the top run-getter in the T20I format. It is Kohli who currently leads the race by a mere margin of one run, and Rohit now has a chance to leave his skipper in his wake as he returns to the home comforts of the Wankhede stadium.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shivam Dube, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav.
West Indies: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Kieron Pollard (c), Jason Holder, Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Kesrick Williams, Hayden Walsh.
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