India head into their all-format tour of the West Indies this weekend with more on their mind than simply winning a couple of T20s.
For Virat Kohli’s side – and indeed for the West Indies – it is a chance to pick up the pieces after a disappointing ODI World Cup in England and put behind them the recent talk of splits in the camp.
Kohli’s confidant Ravi Shastri is on borrowed time before the appointment of a new coach, former captain MS Dhoni has skipped the tour to do military service while Kohli this week has had to dismiss talk of a rift with prolific opening batsman Rohit Sharma.
Unlike the visitors, the West Indies went into the World Cup as one of the outsiders and despite a resounding victory over Pakistan to open their campaign, they slid down to ninth in the final standings amid much disaffection and rancour among their diehard supporters over the repeated manner in which they surrendered potential winning positions.
Now, with an eye on building towards the defence of their World T20 title in Australia in 15 months’ time, they have welcomed back experienced franchise globetrotters in all –rounder Kieron Pollard and spinner Sunil Narine. Carlos Brathwaite is back as captain. There is no Chris Gayle in Florida as he is hard at work in the Global T20 event in Canada.
India will start favourites across all three formats although the West Indies are expected to be at their most competitive and explosive in the T20s. All in all expect an edge of the seat thriller…
Indian run-machine Rohit Sharma will surpass Chris Gayle for the highest number of sixes in T20 Internationals if he hits four more maximums. Rohit has so far struck 102 sixes in 94 T20 Internationals while the big-hitting Jamaican tops the list with 105 in 58 outings.
The match is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. (IST).All India Radio will broadcast running commentary on the match alternately in Hindi and English from 7.30 p.m. The commentary will be available on DLC-10.