India switches to T20 mode without Dhoni

In absence of Dhoni and Kohli, India is all set to take on a strong Windies side in a three-match T20I series.

India skipper Rohit Sharma having a word with young left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed.   -  AFP

Having dominated a relatively modest Windies in Tests and the one-dayers - India runs in to a perceived giant as the format shrinks to T20 Internationals. The defending T20 World Champion will have a new captain and a refurbished squad to challenge the host, which strives to maintain its sway in the final leg of its tour, staring here at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.

With Virat Kohli rested ahead of the bigger battles Down Under, India’s stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma will have the task getting India’s record better against the Windies. The scale of success tilts heavily in favour of Carlos Brathwaite-led side, which has won five out of its eight clashes against India. The latter has only two wins to its credit while one match was abandoned. India will be looking at its current No. 2 ranking in the ICC list to fire itself up for the challenge.

Brathwaite will have fond memories of the ICC World Twenty20 where he smashed four consecutive sixes to douse England's hopes in the final at this venue in 2016. This will certainly inspire the visitor, which so far has not been able to provide the requisite opposition to India on this tour. However, for the shortest format, the Windies have reworked the squad by bringing in T20 specialists.

Read: India starts favourite for T20Is, says Brathwaite

It has in the likes of Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin joining Brathwaite in the battle. However, Russell remained conspicuous by his absence on the eve of the opening match and has been ruled out of the T20I series due to injury.

The Indian captain will be looking to lead by example at a venue where he set a few landmarks. Apart from hitting the record-breaking 264 in ODIs in 2014, Rohit has a Test century of 177 runs and two IPL titles - which makes Eden Gardens his favourite hunting ground. Rohit ended the ODI series as the most prolific scorer after Kohli where he struck couple of 100-plus scores and a 63 to maintain the proficiency that he is known for. For Rohit, captaincy doesn't seem to hamper his batting, as he led India to title win at the Asia Cup and also collected 317 runs off five innings.

The Eden crowd, apart from Kohli will also miss M.S. Dhoni who has not been picked for the T20Is. His absence gives Rishabh Pant a chance to prove his credentials. In the final-12 team announced for the first T20I, Pant will be behind the stumps with Dinesh Karthik also there to bolster the team’s middle order. Krunal Pandya may get a look in ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal. The three-match T20I series gives a chance to Shikhar Dhawan and K.L. Rahul to find some form with the bat.

India: Rohit Sharma (capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal (12th).

West Indies (from): Carlos Brathwaite (capt.), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas, Khary Pierre, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Nicholas Pooran.

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