Windies to play for pride, focus on India's bench strength

As Carlos Brathwaite prepares to prove a point in the third and final T20 of the series, all that Rohit Sharma would want is some match practice for his side ahead of the tour Down Under.

Windies captain Carlos Brathwaite (left) and coach Stuart Law during the team's training session at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.   -  K. Pichumani

Around November, mercury dips in this part of India and the M.A Chidambaram Stadium, only 1.8 kilometres away from the sea, invites the much-needed breeze. It elevates the spectatorship.

As the 102-year-old ground prepares to host its second T20 international match, in six years, the focus will be on the bench strength of the competing sides. Having sealed the series 2-0, India will be keen for a bit of match practice, in the inconsequential third and final T20, before the tour Down Under.

READ: West Indies checks in quietly, no buzz for third T20

Windies, on the other hand, will look to sign off with a victory to justify its ‘T20 world champion’ tag. The team from Caribbean has been training since its arrival and until Saturday late afternoon, there was no trace of any Indian cricketer in the stadium vicinity.

It is understood that Rohit Sharma’s side, arriving in batches after the short break, will directly go into the match on Sunday. The regular morning training should be enough to restore the beast mode.

New faces

As local boy Washington Sundar trained with senior pro Dinesh Karthik at a local ground here on Friday, the murmur is that he could break into the playing XI as Kuldeep Yadav has been rested. Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem is also in the reckoning.

But Rohit could also rope in Yuzvendra Chahal — unused in the T20 series — to help him shed rust ahead of the high-profile tour of Australia. It remains to be seen if Shreyas Iyer is preferred over Manish Pandey or K.L. Rahul.

India has also rested pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav. Siddarth Kaul has been called up to share pace duties with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and K. Khaleel Ahmed.

Windies has tested many youngsters throughout the series and this game could open doors for pacer Obed McCoy, who appeared in two ODIs on the tour. Uncapped all-rounder Sherfane Rutherford could be a wise pick as well.

Once bitten

In the only T20 international here in 2012, India had lost to New Zealand by a run.

The wicket is neutral and in IPL matches, there have been 200-plus totals. Among bowlers, the spinners have done reasonably well here.

The cricket-crazy people here will miss their demigod Mahendra Singh Dhoni — the skipper of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL for over a decade — who isn’t in the squad for the T20 series.

It’s time to throw in a bit of blue in the existing yellow.


India: Rohit Sharma(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, K Khaleel Ahmed, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddarth Kaul

Windies: Carlos Brathwaite (c), Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Obed McCoy, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas

Match starts at 7 pm

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