Windies checks in quietly, no buzz for third T20

Rohit Sharma’s full side is expected to check in at the team hotel on Saturday; Washington Sundar and Dinesh Karthik, already in Chennai, have resumed training after the short break.

Carlos Brathwaite (right) plays a game of football with his team-mates at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.   -  R. Ragu

Dead rubber or not, any cricket match is expected to trigger vibrations. Being away from international cricket for over a year, one expected Chennai to come to a standstill before the third and final T20 between India and Windies to be held at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, better known as Chepauk, on Sunday.

But that has not been the case in the cricket-loving city of Chennai Super Kings. Absence of big guns (like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell) and India’s domination — 2-0 up in the three-match series — perhaps killed the thrill.

On Friday, as the Windies entered Chepauk to resume its regular training, there was hardly anybody to applaud their presence. Even the road outside Hotel Crowne Plaza (team hotel) remained hassle-free during their entry and exit. The only visitor Windies had was former India cricketer, Robin Singh, who joined Kieron Pollard for dinner.

Dinesh Karthik at the nets in Chennai on Friday.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) officials, however, claimed that the low-priced tickets are sold out. "All the low-priced tickets, starting Rs 1,200, have been sold out. The only ones available start from Rs 4,000," said a TNCA official.  Since the tickets are still available online, one can't entirely rule out a fan-filled Sunday.

Team India is yet to arrive. It is learnt that many of the players are travelling individually, after the short break, and joining the side on Saturday — just a day before the game.

 

Since India has decided to rest Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah for the inconsequential game, the focus has shifted to the bench. Local boy Washington Sundar and slow left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem could be in the reckoning. Seamer Siddarth Kaul has been added to the squad.

Off-spinner Sundar and wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, who are already in the city, trained at the ICF ground, while the Windies made use of the buffer day by indulging in a game of football at Chepauk for over an hour.

The three-hour session was followed by throwdowns and nets. Most of the players looked in good spirits, especially Brathwaite, Kieron Pollard and Shimron Hetmyer — who barely took any rest.

With no Kuldeep, the mystery factor will lessen and one can expect the Windies batsmen to show some heart in what would be the second T20 international at the iconic venue.

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