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West Indies has very good chance to win T20 series against India, says all-rounder Keemo Paul

The high scoring rate by India’s openers may be enough to give the West Indian side a headache.

July 29, 2022 / 03:45 PM IST
India’s practice session wasn’t severely affected by the constant drizzle throughout the day. (Representative Image - Reuters)

India’s practice session wasn’t severely affected by the constant drizzle throughout the day. (Representative Image - Reuters)

For the first time since their arrival in the Caribbean on this trip, the Indian cricket team was able to have a full-fledged practice session before the game.

After the three-match ODI series – all played at the historic Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain – the caravan moved to another stadium in the city.

The Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba – named after one of the greatest batsmen of all-time – is a 45-minute drive from the main city and is yet to host an international match. Lara, the Prince of Trinidad, himself came to meet and brief the Indian players.

Apparently, Lara conveyed to the Indian side that even though the ground may not have hosted an international game, enough Caribbean Premier League games had been played there. The stats suggest that it’s not a typical belter by T20 definitions – the average first innings score is 141.

The hosts are happy to see that Shubman Gill, the Man of the Series in the just-concluded ODIs, is no longer part of India’s shortest format.

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“Shubman had a really good series, he batted really well and I think he was actually the difference between the two sides. And, I also think that from the ODI series he was the most impressive player,” West Indian all-rounder Keemo Paul said in an exclusive chat with Moneycontrol just ahead of the first game of the five-match T20 series on July 29.

Weather mercies

India’s practice session wasn’t severely affected by the constant drizzle throughout the day. The locals say June-December is generally considered the rainy season and there is an 80 percent chance of showers for the first game. However, except the last ODI game that was affected by rain, the first two defied the weather forecasts.

After putting up a remarkable fight in the ODIs, the West Indies still lost the series 3-0 and will seek a quick turnaround in the T20 Internationals. Despite missing some stalwarts for various reasons, Nicholas Pooran’s side has had better outings in T20Is. They recently defeated Bangladesh 2-0. However, the hosts know that India is a completely different beast.

“Well, yes, it was a really good ODI series for both sides and both sides played excellent cricket. Unfortunately, India were able to come on top in the crunch situations and they won the series,” admitted Paul, one of the key players for the West Indies in this series.

If Shikhar Dhawan was the Indian captain on July 27, it would be Rohit Sharma on July 29. Despite having multiple captains (seven this year alone across formats, which is a record for India) and a bunch of new players, India is yet to lose a T20I series.

So, does the West Indian side have the wherewithal to stop the Indian juggernaut? Besides Paul, who represented Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, the West Indies has many all-rounders in the playing XI with the likes of Jason Holder, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hosein, who are more than handy with bat and ball in the shortest format of the game.

“I think we have a very good chance to win the T20 Series,” Paul said, quite optimistically and enthusiastically.

India may not be too worried about the challenges from the host, but mostly about how to get the combination right just before the T20 World Cup in Australia, which is less than three months away.

There is speculation in the Indian media over whether the Rohit Sharma-Rishabh Pant combo will start at the top. However, the Delhi keeper didn’t come out for the practice session, and it was Dinesh Karthik who had a long stint at the nets.

It may not matter much in the end and Pant may still come on with Rohit because of the left-right combination and also for the stunning 100 in the ODI game under a hopeless situation in England.

For the record, India has tried as many as six opening combinations this year and the management now wants to zero in on that pair. Even with the constant chopping and changing at the top, the scoring rate for Indian openers was 8.3 runs per over this year, with only New Zealand (8.9) scoring at a better rate.

That alone may give the West Indies team a headache, regardless of who comes out with skipper Rohit.
Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and the Rio Olympics, in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century- a best seller. You can find out more about the former Sports Editor of the News18 India channel on vimalwa.com
first published: Jul 29, 2022 12:29 pm
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