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India aim to bounce back while seeking a few answers

Last updated on 05 Aug 2023 | 05:14 PM
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India aim to bounce back while seeking a few answers

India have a long tail and there is nothing that can be done about it without compromising on bowling resources

Needing 37 off the last five overs with two set batters in the middle, India were well placed to take a 1-0 lead in the first T20I versus West Indies at the Brian Lara Stadium. Then came the wicket maiden from Jason Holder over that brought two wickets - a ripper to bamboozle Hardik Pandya followed by Sanju Samson’s run out. 

All of a sudden, the required run-rate jumped from 7.4 to 9.3, with Axar Patel as the only proper batter left. The over brought down India’s chances from 78% to 31% on the Criclytics match reel - a drop of 47%. Things would have been much different if India had a batter of some expertise at number eight. 

Given how India’s squad is framed for this series, there would be no number eight available for the remaining four T20Is of this five-match series without compromising on bowling resources. The Men in Blue would be mindful of how it can affect their chances heading into the second T20I to be played at the Providence Stadium in Guyana on Sunday (August 6).

West Indies, on the other hand, got plenty of things right. It was evident in the skipper Rovman Powell’s post-match interview. Powell talked about intent against the new ball as scoring will become tougher against India’s spinners in the middle overs. He also mentioned that the series will be decided by how the hosts tackle the Indian spinners. Given the slow nature of the pitches expected in the first three T20Is - Trinidad and Guyana being the venues - the Windies' captain was spot on with his comments. 

The aforementioned aspects don’t mean India are any less prepared. But heading into the second match, the visitors know the task is sterner in T20Is than it was in the other formats. Another defeat will put them in a position to win three games in a row to win the series. 

Things to watch out for

Can India use their bowling resources better? 

India used six bowlers in Trinidad but the biggest talking point was how two of the three spinners couldn’t complete their quota on a slow pitch. Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel bowled only three and two overs, respectively. 

It was a consequence of three left-handers in West Indies’ top six who they spread out evenly - one right-hander, one left-hander and so on. When Nicholas Pooran attacked Chahal and Axar in the powerplay, India were forced to hide both spinners who bring the ball back into the left-handers. 

One solution could be replacing Chahal with Ravi Bishnoi, who has a more effective googly. 

However, it won’t be an easy decision after Chahal returned figures of 2/24 in his three overs. Also, it becomes crucial for India to dismiss the Windies’ left-handers - Pooran, Kyle Mayers and Shimron Hetmyer as quickly as possible for their spinners to be at their optimum best.

How can India tackle Akeal Hosein?

The left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein played an underrated role in the first T20I. He kept the Indian batters in check against the new ball, bowling two overs in the powerplay for only eight runs and the key wicket of Shubman Gill. Overall, he delivered a spell of 1/17 in four overs, constituting the most economical spell of the game. 

Powell mentioned West Indies should have an extra spinner. The only other spin bowling option available is Roston Chase, who will turn the ball into the right-handed heavy batting line-up of India. 

Therefore, if India can find a way to tackle Hosein, life will be much easier for them while batting. Overall, Hosein has an economy of only 6.2 against India, his second-lowest against any team in his T20I career. He can be more lethal in Guyana. 

Ground details and conditions

The Providence Stadium in Guyana has been one of the busiest T20 venues in the Caribbean since 2022. It has hosted most games, including T20Is and CPL matches. Spinners have picked 3.4 wickets per innings, the highest at any venue in West Indies since 2022. They have accounted for 53.6% of the total wickets here in this time frame which tells you everything about the spin-friendly nature of the surface. Expect a lot of spin bowling in this fixture.  

Tactical Nous

India can promote Tilak Varma to number three to tackle Hosein in case they lose an early wicket. Similarly, Axar can be promoted to counter Hosein in the middle-overs. 

Probable XIs

West Indies

The hosts may want an extra spin-bowling option in Roston Chase. One of Alzarri Joseph or Romario Shepherd can make way. 

Probable XI: Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Johnson Charles, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Rovman Powell ( c ), Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Romario Shepherd/Roston Chase, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Obed McCoy


Bishnoi can come in for Chahal to tackle the Windies’ left-handers. At some point in the series, Yashasvi Jaiswal will also get a look at the opening spot. Can it be this game? 

Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Hardik Pandya ( c ), Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal/Ravi Bishnoi, Mukesh Kumar 

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