India faces T20 test sans MSD

West Indies is bolstered by the arrival of Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell.
India faces T20 test sans MSD
Indian players during a training session ahead of the first T20 International against West Indies

Kolkata

The ‘end of Dhoni era’ notion has been dismissed unequivocally but then India, for the first time, will still be without the figure with a monumental body of work when it faces West Indies in the opening T20 International on Sunday.

Less than a week after Mahendra Singh Dhoni was left out of India’s T20I squad, captain Virat Kohli has said he remains an integral part of India’s plans. Chief selector MSK Prasad also said that it was not the end of the road for Dhoni in T20Is. With Kohli rested for the three matches, Rohit Sharma will lead the side against the reigning T20 champion.

Under Jason Holder, West Indies was mauled 0-2 in the Test series in six days of action. In the following five-match ODI series, it posed some challenge before being thrashed 1-3 with a nine-wicket loss in Thiruvananthapuram in the final one-dayer. But, it will not be an easy task for India against the Carlos Brathwaite-led team as the two-month long series begins its final leg, giving the visitor a chance to regain some pride.

Brathwaite will be back at the same venue where he hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to break the hearts of English fans by winning its second World Twenty20 title in 2016. The Windies will be bolstered by the arrival of star players Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell, who will be back at his IPL home venue.

The stats also favour the World T20 holder which has a five-two record from eight exchanges from 2009-17. India failed to overcome Brathwaite’s men in their last four encounters and the Windies ended the home team’s campaign in the 2016 T20I WC, defeating it in the semi-finals in Mumbai. India’s last win against West Indies came way back on March 23, 2014 in the World T20 in Bangladesh, and Sharma will have his task cut out in his quest to start well at his happy hunting ground.

He would look to carry his fine form from the ODI series, in which he finished behind Kohli, with 389 runs, at a staggering average of 129.66. Captaincy seems to bring out the best in Sharma who notched up 317 runs (average 105.66) in five innings in their title-winning campaign at the Asia Cup.

The Windies, on the other hand, will look forward to its youngster Shimron Hetmeyer, who scored 259 runs in the ODI series. Kohli’s absence would mean KL Rahul will come into the picture while Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant are expected to add firepower in the middle order alongside Krunal Pandya.

Pant is expected to fulfil the wicket-keeping responsibilities. The Indian seam attack will be led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, which now includes additional variation in the form of left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed. In the spin department, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav will look to build on their chemistry. India have also named uncapped Krunal Pandya in the final 12. The Eden centre strip promises to be full of runs, and batsmen from both sides will look to make merry

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