IND vs WI, 3rd T20I: Time for India to heed wake-up call

Virat Kohli's comrades would need to make drastic improvement in their performance to avoid a series defeat.

Local boys: Rohit Sharma (left) and Shivam Dube at a practice session at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. Photo: Vivek Bendre

“It’s coming home” was actually the theme song for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but by the time England started living up to the tag of the favourite, it had been adopted as the unofficial theme song for the ICC World Cup earlier this year.

The fans in the Maximum City while entering the Wankhede Stadium for the deciding rubber of the three-match T20I series between India and West Indies could well be humming the same song. Not just in anticipation of India’s series triumph but even with multiple ‘home’ connects the match offers, from both the teams.

The Mumbai connect

Three of India’s team members — vice-captain Rohit Sharma, middle-order dasher Shreyas Iyer and new kid on the block Shivam Dube — are Mumbaikars. While Dube would be keen on continuing in the same vein after making his promotion to No. 3 count in Thiruvananthapuram, Rohit and Shreyas would be hoping to turn the tables on their home turf after a relatively quiet series so far.

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Thanks to the Indian Premier League juggernaut, though, the home support will not be limited to the home team. With Kieron Pollard — who has spent even more years in the Mumbai Indians camp than captain Rohit — leading the West Indies, there will be no death of support for the Caribbean crusaders come Wednesday night.

Pollard isn’t the lone member in the opposition camp with a strong local connect, though.

Potent batsmen

Lendl Simmons, the opener who repeated his World T20 semifinal heroics on Sunday by anchoring a perfect chase against India, was a star performer in one of Mumbai Indians’ four IPL title wins. So has Evin Lewis, whose twin knocks so far would have reinvigorated interest among IPL franchises for the IPL auction after being released by MI.

Gearing up: Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran jostle for the ball during practice. Photo: Vivek Bendre

If Simmons and Lewis can stage an encore of the strong foundation they laid on Sunday, the Men in Blue will have to play out of their skin in order to avoid the ignominy of losing the series.

Scope for improvement

One of the cliches used by cricket teams all around the world is to “focus on our own performance rather than worry about the oppositions.” Kohli’s comrades — most of whom preferred to take it easy as only six turned up for Tuesday’s optional practice session — would have to use the same yardstick and make drastic improvement in their performance to avoid the series slipping away.

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In an effort to build the squad with an eye on the T20 World Cup, India may be giving a long rope to some of the fringe players. It has resulted in errors — not just with the bat and the ball, but more worryingly in the field — at inopportune times. These errors — two dropped in catches in an over in the Powerplay in Thiruvananthapuram, for instance — have proven costly for the team.

If India has to enjoy a home run at the Wankhede, such preliminary mistakes will have to be eliminated. Otherwise the fans will have to sing “it’s coming home” to praise Pollard instead of Kohli.

PTI adds:

India batsman Rohit Sharma didn't wish to be unduly worried about building a squad for the T20 World Cup.

“See, I don’t want to keep saying that we are trying to build a squad for the [T20] World Cup. It is still a long, long way ahead. We just need to focus on winning the series and that will keep us in good state, moving forward,” Rohit said on Tuesday ahead of the final T20I.

“If we keep winning games, keep doing the right things on the field, the composition of the team will take care [by itself],” Rohit added.


 

The teams (from)

India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, K. L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sanju Samson.

West Indies: Kieron Pollard (c), Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Denesh Ramdin, Sherfane Rutherford, Hayden Walsh Jr., Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell and Kesrick Williams.
 

Match starts at 7 p.m.

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