Team India has accomplished its first mission on its tour of the Caribbean by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20I series.
The Indian bowlers ran riot in the first T20I as they bundled out the West Indies for a paltry 95 runs. Washington Sundar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar made the initial breakthroughs, sending back both the West Indies openers for ducks.
Indian debutant, fast bowler Navdeep Saini, came on to bowl the fifth over of the innings. In his very first over in international cricket, Saini got ride of Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer off successive deliveries to nullify the threat the two left-handers could have posed to left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Krunal Pandya.
Saini finished with excellent figures of 3 for 17 which earned him the Man of the Match award.
In reply, India huffed and puffed but eventually reached the target in the 18th over for the loss of 6 wickets. When Virat Kohli was dismissed in the 14th over, India were 27 runs away with 5 wickets in hand. In the end, it was left to the bowling all-rounders Krunal, Jadeja, and Washington Sundar to take their side home.
In the second T20I, it was first Rohit Sharma and then Krunal that took the game away from the West Indies team. Rohit continued his fine form, scoring a scintillating 67 off 51 balls to take India to a respectable score of 167 for 5. Shikhar Dhawan (23) and Kohli (28) made useful contributions as well.
In reply, the West Indies once again recovered from a poor start to reach 84 for 2 in 13 overs. Rovman Powell was unbeaten on 54 off 33 balls at the time. He was involved in a 76-run partnership with Nicholas Pooran for the third wicket. However, with the threat of rain looming large and India desperate for a wicket or two, Krunal struck twice in one over.
He first removed the struggling Pooran for 19 courtesy of a stunning catch by Manish Pandey on the boundary.
Off the fifth ball of the same over, he caught the well-set Powell plumb in front of the wicket to derail the West Indies chase. The loss of those two wickets five minutes before the rain interruption changed the dynamics of the game and took the DLS target beyond the West Indies' reach.
In the end, India won the second T20I by 22 runs on the DLS method, claiming the series in the process. In the post-match ceremony, the Indian captain Kohli expressed his desire to experiment with the side in the inconsequential final T20I by giving a well-deserved break to the other players in the squad.
In this article, we discuss the three changes that India might contemplate making in the third T20I against the West Indies.
#1 KL Rahul for Rohit Sharma
Rohit has been in terrific form since the start of the 50-over World Cup. Even in the ongoing series, he top-scored for India in both the matches. Now, it is time for the Indian vice-captain to take a well-deserved break. KL Rahul could slot into the team alongside Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order.
Rahul has an excellent record in T20I cricket, having scored 879 runs in 20 completed innings at an average of 44 and strike rate of 149. He is one of just three Indians to have scored a century in T20Is, after Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. Rahul has notched up two T20I hundreds in just 24 innings and, as an opener, has amassed five fifties as well.
Considering his decent form in the recently concluded 50-over World Cup and the challenge that lies ahead in the current series, Rahul should not be made to warm the benches for too long. He should get a hit in the middle before the start of the ODI series.
#2 Deepak Chahar for Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Deepak Chahar has played just one T20I in his career thus far, against England. In that match, he got the wicket of Jason Roy but conceded 43 runs.
Deepak is a swing bowler who is quite effective with the new ball. In the latest edition of the IPL, he was the highest wicket-taker in the power play. Out of his 22 wickets, 14 came in the power play.
He could be a like-for-like replacement for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who he should replace in the final T20I.
#3 Rahul Chahar for Ravindra Jadeja
Rahul Chahar had an excellent IPL last time around, finishing with 13 wickets at an economy of 6.55. He was instrumental in Mumbai Indians winning the IPL for a record fourth time. His wickets included that of big guns Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ben Stokes, Chris Lynn, and Faf du Plessis.
In nine out of the 13 matches that he played, he gave away fewer than 30 runs in his four-over spells. He held his nerve while bowling to world-class batsmen and came out on top more often than not.
The time is ripe for him to make his T20I debut for India, in the third match against West Indies. He could be drafted into the team in place of Ravindra Jadeja.
The only other player who hasn’t played in the series so far is Shreyas Iyer. However, he is unlikely to receive an opportunity as India would be reluctant to rest both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the same game.Published 05 Aug 2019, 14:02 IST