After the World Cup, the Indian team starts their new season with a tour to West Indies consisting of three T20Is, three ODIs, and two Tests. Florida will host the first two T20Is, and then the teams move to the Caribbean Islands for the rest of the tour.
Considering West Indies rank 9th in the ICC T20I World Rankings, expecting India to win quite easily will be a huge mistake. The series will be very competitive and exciting to watch for the fans.
The Indian selectors have picked five specialist batsmen in Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, and Manish Pandey.
Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, and Ravindra Jadeja are the three all-rounders picked.
KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant are the two wicketkeeping options, although it is certain that Pant will keep wickets, while KL Rahul will play as a specialist batsman.
Looking at bowling options, the five specialist bowlers picked are Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, and Rahul Chahar.
The notable absentees in the India squad are Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Kuldeep Yadav, who have all been given a rest.
Although KL Rahul has opened the batting in the IPL as well as recently for India, he may have to bat at number four, considering both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are available together for T20Is after a long time, and Virat Kohli is best suited for number three. It will be a shootout between Iyer and Pandey, but Pandey's IPL blitz may get him the nod over Iyer.
Another dilemma for the team management will be to choose between Jadeja and Krunal Pandya for the spin-bowling all-rounder slot. Although Jadeja performed reasonably well in the World Cup, Krunal has done well consistently in the shorter format over the last year or so, producing match-winning performances consistently, which may get him the nod over Jadeja.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed automatically pick themselves, but Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini will be competing for the third pacer slot. With the pitches expected to be flat, Saini will be more effective with his extra pace as compared to Deepak Chahar, who may struggle to get his dangerous outswingers going. Rahul Chahar should make his debut, being the only wrist spinner in the squad.
Areas of Concern
Pandey and Pant have been inconsistent, which makes the middle order look a little fragile. Once again, the onus will be on the top four batsmen to build a solid foundation and make sure that one of them stays till the end to put a big score on the board.
Bowlers might as well find themselves under huge pressure against the explosive Windies lineup, especially Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini, who haven't played any international cricket at all.
All in all, a tough challenge awaits team India. They will have to play extremely well to come up trumps against this strong Windies team. The result of the series will depend on how well the Indian top-order plays, and how the inexperienced Indian bowlers like Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini can handle the powerful Windies batting lineup. It is tough to predict the scoreline of the series, but I expect India to win it 2-1.Published 30 Jul 2019, 16:31 IST