Series in their bag, India may experiment with their line-up in the final match against the West Indies, skipper Virat Kohli has hinted.
India won the weather-hit second match by 22 runs via Duckworth-Lewis method on Sunday to clinch the series with a game to spare.
Kohli lauded his players for a“clinical” performance and dropped hints that he may try out players, who did not get chance to play in the first two matches.
“Winning is always going to be a priority. But sealing the series gives the chance to bring few guys in. Idea is always going to be to win first. But winning the first two games gives the cushion,” Kohli said during the post match presentation ceremony.
The teams will now travel to Guyana for the final match, to played at Providence stadium on Tuesday.
Shreyas Iyer and leg-break bowler Rahul Chahar stand a good chance to compete in the third Twenty20. It will not be a surprise if Deepak Chahar, cousin of Rahul, too finds a place in the playing XI.
It remains to be seen if Kohli persists with wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, who scored 4 and 0 in the two matches or gives him another chance. KL Rahul can replace him if the team management decides to drop Pant.
Talking about the second match, Kohli said the pitch was good to bat on early on.
“The new ball was coming on nicely. We set up a good foundation. Good finish from Jadeja and Krunal to get us past 160. The way we were going, could have got to 180, but pitch slowed down considerably in the latter half,” he said.
The Indian skipper had words of praise for spinner Washington Sundar, who was asked to open the bowling in both the matches. The Chennai bowler succeeded in providing the breakthrough in both the games.
“Starting with the new ball, the way Sundar has bowled against guys who come hard at the ball, he’s done a tremendous job. The composure he’s shown has been outstanding. He’s become fitter, leaner and is very handy with the bat as well. He is definitely going to be a factor for us,” he said.
West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite said his side could have won if the match could be completed.
Chasing a stiff 168, the Caribbeans were 98 for four in 15.3 overs when the match was stopped due to thunderstorm.
“ I really don’t think it went wrong. We didn’t have the start with the ball we wanted but we pulled it back. Had a solid base with the bat. We backed ourselves to get 70 off 26 even though it’s a difficult task,” he said.
Brathwaite also defended the decision to ask big-hitting Kieron Pollard to bat at number five.
“The target we had, we wanted Pollard to come in later. Our lineup is flexible enough. Batting wise, it’s a lot closer to where we want to be. Consistency is what we’re looking for. If we can continue restricting teams to 160 (that will be good),” he said.
Wickets upfront help spinners in middle overs, says Krunal
All-rounder Krunal Pandya, who starred in India’s win in the second T20 against the West Indies, said support from pace colleagues makes the job easy for spinners in targeting the middle-order line up.
The 28-year-old smashed a quick-fire 20 off 13 balls before dismissing Nicholas Pooran (19) and danger-man Rovman Powell (54) with his left-arm spin in the weather hit game.
“When your fast bowlers pick up early wickets, it makes our job quite easy. If they are 2-3 down then we (spinners) can come and focus on the middle order,” Krunal said at the post-match conference.
Rohit Sharma’s half-century powered India to 167 for five after electing to bat.
India’s new-ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and spinner Washington Sundar then provided early breakthroughs to reduce West Indies to eight for two in the first three overs.
“In both the games we got the breaks up front, Washington also bowled well and Bhuvi is world class. It’s a good that everyone is contributing in the team with the bat and the ball.”
The 28-year-old, who was also adjudged man-of-the-match, said the wicket aided spinners and performances like these help boost the confidence.
He returned with the figures of 1/20 and 2/23 in the first and second game respectively.
“I’m happy with how I’ve bowled in the series. I bowled four overs in the first game and today also I bowled three. The wicket was slightly helpful for spin which helped me as well. It’s a good confidence booster when you represent your country, contribute to wins and get these kinds of wickets.”
Nisarg Chokshi, one of Krunal’s childhood friends had come to watch and support his Gujarat mate play.
“It’s a proud feeling for me (to bowl in front of friends and family) and I’m sure they are proud also. He is my childhood friend and we used to play together in the under-12 and under-14. Good to see him come and support me.”
The first two T20s of the series were played in the US and the all-rounder said it was a good experience playing here.
“Great experience playing in USA. Of what I’ve heard, cricket is developing fine over here and everyone was looking forward to playing here. Both games were close so it was a good experience. Plenty of Indians here too,” Krunal added.