India vs West Indies, 2nd T20I: Kohli and Co. eye series win, focus on local boy Samson

As India takes on the West Indies in the second T20I in Thiruvananthapuram, the focus will be on local boy Sanju Samson, who played his only T20I four years ago.

Virat Kohli and Co. will be eyeing a series win against the Windies on Sunday.   -  AFP

There is still a quietude about the Kerala capital that is charming and old-worldly. Sunday evening, though, would be anything but quiet. Neither would there be much old-worldly about the cricket on display at the Greenfield Stadium, where India takes on the West Indies in the second T20I.

The host came into the series as the odds-on favourite against a West Indies side without some of its globetrotting T20 specialists. The first match in Hyderabad did little to change that perception.

It may not have been the best of nights for India in the field, but the team still crossed the finishing line with aplomb. That too, when it was chasing as big a target as it never had before.

The Men in Blue must have felt good after posting their seventh straight T20 win against the Windies. India captain Virat Kohli made a career-best 94 not out (50b), despite looking out of sorts at the start of his innings.

The skipper wouldn’t be the only one in India’s top-order who may have had a sound night’s sleep ahead of the following day’s flight to Thiruvananthapuram. K.L. Rahul must be pleased with his 40-ball 62 and his match-winning second-wicket partnership with Kohli.

His worries of the past year, on and off the ground, seemed a distant memory as he put on an exhibition of attractive strokeplay to present his case for a spot at the top of the order, even when the injured Shikhar Dhawan returns.

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Samson conundrum

The cricket-loving public of Thiruvananthapuram would not mind an encore from Rahul in Sunday’s match in what is only the city’s second T20I. And they would also be hoping Rohit Sharma too entertains them the elegant way he did last year here, in the ODI against the same opposition. His Ranji Trophy teammate Shreyas Iyer would be keen to make a solid contribution in the middle order.

The genius of Kohli, backed by the resoluteness of Rahul, may have made up for India’s listless display in the field, but the bowlers and the fielders – as many as five catches went begging -- would be desperate for redemption. It wasn’t a night remember for the likes of Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

It would be interesting to see if India makes any changes to its bowling. The entire Thiruvananthapuram is desperately hoping it does: so the local boy Sanju Samson finally returns to the blue shirt, more than four years after having played his only T20I.

“Will Sanju be playing?” is the first question here when any discussion about the match begins. The explosive batsman, who also keeps wickets, has begun the new season in great form, with a record-breaking double hundred in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Bowling discipline

When it comes to explosive batting, few could rival the Windies in world cricket. Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis and captain Kieron Pollard have already shown that in the series, and the likely return of Nicholas Pooran, after serving his four-match suspension for ball-tampering, will boost the Caribbean team’s power-hitting further.

Like their Indian counterparts, the Windies bowlers have to come up with a better effort and support the spirited the Sheldon Cottrell needs more support.

Late on Saturday afternoon, the city witnessed persistent rain, but there are only 10 per cent chances of showers on Sunday.