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India vs West Indies 1st T20: Rahul, Pant in focus ahead of World Cup 2020

In the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, the series will provide K L Rahul, who holds a good record in T20s, a very good opportunity to secure his place as Rohit Sharma's partner up the order.

Press Trust of India  |  Hyderabad 

India cricket team, Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium
Indian skipper Virat Kohli plays football with teammates during a practice session ahead of their T20 match against West Indies, at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. Photo: PTI

As take on Windies Cricket Team in a three-match T20 series starting at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday, the likes of and will be aiming to cement their place in the squad. The series comes at a time when India are still auditioning for next year's T20 World Cup.

India will continue their preparations for the T20 World Cup in Australia and many players, whose places are not yet secure, will try to impress the team management and selectors with their performances against the West Indies. One such name is Rahul.

eyeing opener's slot

In the absence of injured opener Shikhar Dhawan, the series will provide the stylish right-handed batsman, who holds a good record in T20s, a very good opportunity to secure his place as Rohit Sharma's partner up the order.

In 31 T20 Internationals, Rahul has amassed 974 runs at an average of 42.74 with 110 not out being his highest score. He is also a prolific scorer in the IPL.

'Do or die' for Rishabh Pant

Besides Rahul, another individual who would like to answer his critics with solid performances is Pant. The southpaw has, of late, come under the scanner for his inconsistent form with the bat and poor glove work.

He has been seen as the successor to MS Dhoni, but after the conclusion of ICC ODI World Cup 2019, Pant has endured a slump in form and was heavily criticised for throwing his wicket away on multiple occasions.

Even his glove-work came under heavy scrutiny and the left-hander was dropped in the longest format of the game and Wriddhiman Saha regained his place in the playing 11.

With the selectors bringing in talented Sanju Samson in the squad and talks of Dhoni coming out of his sabbatical soon, it's high time for Pant to either perform or lose his place in the squad. The series is also huge for Samson.

Can Sanju Samson find a place in India playing 11?

Although he was named in the T20 squad against Bangladesh, the Kerala 'keeper-batsman didn't get a single opportunity in the series and was only picked for this rubber after Dhawan sustained a knee injury while playing for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali National T20 Championship.

It is certain that Pant will be the first choice wicketkeeper but in case he fails again, it remains to be seen whether the team management gives Samson an opportunity, which he certainly deserves.

Kuldeep-Chahal spin duo to take field again

The good news for India is that will return to lead the side after taking a break in the T20 series against Bangladesh.

On the bowling front, there are several notable comebacks with the likes of Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar returning to the side's T20 setup.

The duo of Kuldeep and Chahal, also known as 'Kulcha', will reunite after a long time. Kuldeep last featured in the shortest format in February 2019 against New Zealand.

India go with experience in pace department

The Indian pace attack looks menacing with the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.

Shami last appeared in a T20I in 2017, while Bhuvneshwar returns to the squad after recovering from a muscle problem. Bhuvneshwar's last T20 was against the West Indies in the Caribbean in August this year.

The find of the Bangladesh series, Deepak Chahar, is also expected to play a big role alongside Shami and Bhuvneshwar in the past attack.

West Indies team news

West Indies, on the other hand, would be looking for revenge after being dismantled by India 3-0 in their own backyard in August.

West Indies are considered a very good T20 side and what would act in their favour is that they have already acclimatised to the conditions, having played Afghanistan in a full series in Lucknow.

Having been entrusted with the captaincy responsibility, will look to lead from the front.

With Nicholas Pooran ruled out of the first T20 because of a four-match ban for ball-tampering, the onus would be on Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer to guide West Indies batting line-up.

Besides, the Indians would also be wary of Roston Chase, who can make useful contributions with both bat and ball.

Keeping in mind the T20 World Cup, the West Indies are also trying out various combinations and have drafted in quite a few new faces in the team. The visitors have opted for young Brandon King, Khary Pierre, Sherfane Rutherford, Keserick Williams and Hayden Walsh Jr over experienced players like Carlos Brathwaite, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo.

Here are the squads of both teams

India T20 squad: (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami.

West Indies T20 squad: (captain), Fabian Allen, Brandon King, Denesh Ramdin, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Sherfane Rutherford, Shimron Hetmyer, Khary Pierre, Lendl Simmons, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr, Keemo Paul, Kesrick Williams.

First Published: Thu, December 05 2019. 12:45 IST