West Indies v India: One-Off T20 Preview

Cricket_Match

The preceding ODI series offered plenty of insight into the Windies and India's current limited-over prowess. Now, Carlos Brathwaite and Virat Kohli's men will vie for status in the shortest format of the international game.

Before heading off to respective challenges against England and Sri Lanka, the islanders and sub-continental big guns can cast an eye to the next World Twenty20, which is still three years away - but warrants early planning.

West Indies v India | Sunday, 9 July 2017 | Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica | 17:30

To Win Match
West Indies 29/20 | Tie 35/1 | India 57/100

West Indies
The West Indians have always been the first to profess, admit even, that Twenty20 International cricket is their preferred platform - and certainly their greatest opportunity to succeed, given its short time span and lack of need for sustained periods of ascendancy. All and sundry know an expensive over with the ball - or lucrative with the bat - can be all it takes to swing a result.

The Windies were convincing enough in early June's three-T20I series against Afghanistan - and have taken their cue to rest fast bowler Jason Holder and drop batsman Lendl Simmons. Uncapped seamer Ronsford Beaton, meanwhile, will surely graduate in the absence of Holder. The biggest news among the personnel, of course, is the recall of the big-hitting Chris Gayle.

The self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' has selflessly taken time out of his busy schedule, globetrotting the planet in search of domestic Twenty20 league notoriety vast and varied, to compete in this one-off fixture. He endured a genuinely poor stretch of form in the 2017 Indian Premier League, in which he scored just 200 runs in nine innings, and needs to find a semblance of his former glory.

Sunday's venue has not been kind to the West Indies in T20I competition. They only have February 2014's tight 11-run win - and lowly six-wicket defeat - to Ireland to show for their Sabina Park experience. Both occasions saw the toss-winning captain lose the match, so thankfully the flip of the coin shouldn't have a major say on the result - as it often does in this format.

India
Collectively, Kohli and company have not played a T20I in almost half a year - and will need to quickly find their groove in a format 60 overs shorter than what they've been playing since February. Individually, of course, several of the 15-man squad were in action during the IPL, so are not entirely ring rusty.

The Twenty20 party bears a striking resemblance to the ODI team, but that's understandable - given the restraints of quick travel from Mumbai to Kingston and short turnaround between the fifth ODI and one-off T20I. Opportunity, however, knocks for the roles of fringe players Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant to take precedent over those of, say, batsman Ajinkya Rahane or all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.

The current occupants of fourth position in the International Cricket Council's T20 rankings, ahead of the fifth-placed West Indies, India hold just one World Twenty20 title (2007) to the islanders' two (2012 and 2016). The initial stepping stones to levelling the proverbial score at the next showcase in Australia in 2020, then, start now.

As was the case in the preceding ODI series, this standalone duel will largely come down to twin factors: the batsmen's willingness to successfully combat complacency and their death bowlers' ability to stand up to the big, brash hitting of Brathwaite, Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and cronies.

Verdict: West Indies 29/20
The teams have met in the briefest format of international cricket on seven occasions, with the Windies triumphant four times, India twice - and one no-result. The hosts will likely widen the gap to three.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for @Hollywoodbets.net

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