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Cricket news - Will West Indies' big-hitters call the shots in high-scoring Mumbai?

West Indies have comfortably outscored India on the sixes count - 27 to 17

West Indies have comfortably outscored India on the sixes count - 27 to 17

Recurrent calls of "watch out, watch out!" echoed through the Wankhede Stadium on the eve of the series-decider between India and West Indies. A similar cry of caution would probably have bellowed through the stands in Thiruvananthapuram a couple of days ago, given the frequency with which the West Indian batsmen dispatched the bowlers into the crowd in their series-levelling eight-wicket win. The showcase of their brute strength then was second to none, and it continued in Mumbai on Tuesday (December 10) with sweet spots ringing through as balls flew across the park at will. While their power game shone through in the practice session, it was a happy distraction along the periphery, hampering ground preparation with most wary of being struck.

The second game of the three-match series was an exhibition of solid hitting, much natural to both West Indies and T20 cricket. In this series alone, West Indies have belted as many as 27 sixes in the last two games, as opposed to India's 17. What would've been even more heartening after the thrashing Virat Kohli dished out to them in Hyderabad was that the win was orchestrated by a man who had last played an international game in June 2017, Lendl Simmons.

Simmons set the platform for West Indies' win at the top, with a 45-ball 67, while Nicholas Pooran returned from his three-match ball-tampering ban and provided the finishing touches with a 38-run unbeaten blitzkrieg. It was of little surprise when Pooran said that West Indies get nervous while batting first, after having polished the chase of 171 with ease. India, too, prefer chasing, and that six of the last seven games this home season have been won by the team chasing, further substantiates it.

However, the uncontrollable of the toss aside, both teams will have to ace their command over the controllables. For India, the fielding has been a cause of concern with spilled catches becoming a regular feature and ground fielding begging for improvement. It even prompted the skipper to say if it persisted the way it was currently, no score would be enough.

Shivam Dube's promotion to disrupt the string of right-handers was a move that paid off for India in the second T20I. The all-rounder belted a 30-ball 54 to gain much-needed confidence even if India don't persist with the move long-term. With Rishabh Pant continuing to accrue mediocre scores, a confident Dube down the order could do India good, factoring in how they managed to get only 38 runs in the back five overs in Thiruvananthapuram.

The scrutiny continues to hover over Pant's selection, with Sanju Samson knocking on the door. It will continue in Mumbai until there's a turnaround of sorts for the wicketkeeper, and a consistent one at that. Indian bowlers' lack of variations in the last game also let the in-form West Indian batsmen off. While Yuzvendra Chahal bowled a tad quicker, the quicks were unable to get their lengths right, with the West Indian batsmen playing the lengths than the lines.

For West Indies, it'll be about aiming to replicate what they did the other night. It was a chase they aced with pinpoint precision, notwithstanding the lives handed. It will be a battle of equals; while India will rely on their familiarity, West Indies will, on their unpredictability to pull off their first T20I series win this year.

When: December 11, 2019; 7:00 PM IST

Where: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

What to expect: The wicket continued to be rolled on match-eve. Dew will play a major factor, and with sides preferring to chase, the toss becomes crucial. It's expected to be a wicket with pace and bounce for the quicks.

Team News


The pace and bounce in the wicket could tempt India to rope in Mohammed Shami for a spinner. West Indies' top five that has three left-handers could work in Washington Sundar's favour to retain him versus playing Kuldeep Yadav, which would mean replacing Jadeja with Shami, if at all. The consideration would come, however, given that Sundar has only returned three wickets in the last 5 T20Is, and conceded 144 runs in 23 overs.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja/Mohammed Shami, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal

West Indies

Fabian Allen continues to be sidelined due to his knee injury. If they are to make a change, Keemo Paul could replace Jason Holder whose lean run in West Indies' tour of India so far continues.

Probable XI: Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Jason Holder/Keemo Paul, Sheldon Cottrell, Kesrick Williams, Khary Pierre, Hayden Walsh

What they said:

"We have seen in the IPL and international cricket that totals over 200 can be chased here. It is that sort of a ground. You never know how much you have to put on when you are batting first. There is a lot to think about in this match because there is the dew factor too, and also you don't know what is a good score when you are batting first. I think any score is chaseable here." - Phil Simmons, West Indies head coach

"I don't want to keep saying that we are trying to build a squad for the World Cup. It is still a long-long way ahead. We just need to focus on winning series and that will held (keep) us in good state, moving forward." - Rohit Sharma

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