Cricket

Windies seek small joys as chastening tour draws to a close


CHENNAI T20I

Windies have lost the first two of the three-match series © AFP

That Windies are returning home empty-handed from this full-fledged tour of India has been established. Therefore, it wasn’t a complete surprise when the Caribbean Test specialists turned up at Chepauk for some red-ball practice even before the current T20I squad began their drills ahead of Chennai dead-rubber.

Barring opening spells that have grabbed eyeballs, nothing has gone Windies’ way even in the shortest format on this tour. They ran into Dinesh Karthik version 2.0 in the series opener to concede the game despite having reduced India to 45/4 in a chase of 110. Then in Lucknow, a vintage Rohit Sharma show virtually rendered the contest over before Windies could begin their chase.

The lack of contributions from the experienced quartet of Carlos Brathwaite, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo has been at the heart of their batting meltdowns. The Windies are also without specialist openers – in the wake of Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis withdrawing from the series – and have had to make do with those at their disposal. They went in with the pair who had reasonable success in the preceding ODIs – Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer – but only managed marginally better returns than from the Hope-Ramdin combo.

The instability of the batting order is glaring. While skipper Brathwaite isn’t too fussed about the criticism that comes with this hit-and-trial theory, he also didn’t mince his words in putting the blame squarely on the batsmen for not applying themselves enough.

The captain also took the responsibility for their insipid bowling show in Game 2 that allowed India to race away to a near 200-run total. Brathwaite and Khary Pierre came in the firing line, leaking 105 runs between them in their eight overs alone. The bowling, overall has been guilty of failing to sustain the pressure even though pacer Oshane Thomas and all-rounder Fabian Allen have offered a glimpse into the potential of this young squad. However, Windies would need more than just intermittent sparks to avoid the embarrassment of a whitewash.

On an extended Diwali break since the series-clinching 71-run win in Lucknow, the Indians have released three usual suspects – Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav – from their squad with an eye on the upcoming tour of Australia that also begins with T20Is. As such, the inconsequential final T20I has turned into a chance to test their reserves. With Shreyas Iyer waiting in the wings, Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant would be feeling the heat in the batting department after failing to make their chances count.

Siddarth Kaul has been added to the mix but is unlikely to start, allowing for an additional spinner in Chennai. If Yuzvendra Chahal replaces Kuldeep, then India will have to choose between Washinton Sundar and Shahbaz Nadeem to complete the XI.

When: 3rd T20I, November 11, 7pm IST

Where: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

What to expect: If the lone IPL 2018 game at the Chepauk is any marker, the sun-baked center strip promises a typically high-scoring T20 run-fest to bring the series to a close. Clear skies predicted for the game night, though dew would impact decisions at toss.

Team News

India: With the series in the bag and after a much-deserved Diwali break, the hosts regrouped in Chennai only on the eve of the contest and stayed indoors. At least two changes to India’s eleven are confirmed, but their only dilemma would be whether to back Pandey for another game or see what Shreyas Iyer has to offer after being waitlisted for the first two.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer/Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar/Shahbaz Nadeem, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed

Windies: The resource crunch has led to a host of changes in the batting line-up for Windies, who are still figuring out players’ roles. Expect that to continue till they hit jackpot. A maiden cap looks likely for hard-hitting Sherfane Rutherford as the visitors look to explore batting options beyond the misfiring candidates.

Probable XI: Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite (C), Shefrane Rutherford, Fabian Allen, Keemo Paul, Oshane Thomas, Khary Pierre

What they said

“I’m enjoying every moment of it. When I was young, I wanted to play for India. And here today also if I feel the pressure as well then I probably won’t be able to [fulfil my potential]. Now that I’m living my dream, I want to be confident in my bowling and want to do well for India. And when you’re doing well that in turn spurs you on to do even better.” Khaleel Ahmed, on dealing with the pressure of expectations

“Pollard brings a lot, both on and off the field. With the youngsters in the squad, it’s someone like Pollard who motivates them in the dressing room. He’s a senior member of the squad, and we all know what he’s capable of when he gets going… he’s just a game away from reminding us why he’s such a T20 force. Pollard himself would not be pleased with his show on the tour so far, and he’ll be itching to finish the series in a blazing manner.” – Stuart Law on Pollard’s no-show in the series thus far.

© Cricbuzz

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