India will hope that batsmen will helm their march towards a series-levelling victory over the West Indies with another impact effort in the fourth T20 International at Lauderhill on Saturday. India might have stayed afloat with a win in the third T20I but Windies still lead the series 2-1, a quick reminder to the fact that the visitors still have concerns surrounding the batting unit. It was a comforting sight indeed to see Suryakumar Yadav flicking on his beast mode and Tilak Varma chipping in with crucial runs. But India’s opening combination continued to falter.
India had handed T20I debut to Yashasvi Jaiswal, resting Ishan Kishan. But for the third successive match, the pair at the totem pole position failed to impress, making just six runs. Jaiswal got out to pacer Obed McCoy in the first over itself.
In the previous two matches, Kishan and Shubman Gill had managed to score just five and 16 for the first wicket to place some amount of pressure on the middle-order.
Whether India will bring back Kishan for this match remains to be seen, but the management will hope for a more potent outing from the openers in a must-win match.
That India do not have a handy bat lower down the order, makes it mandatory for batsmen at the top to deliver. India have deployed Axar Patel at No. 7 to maintain the balance and they might continue to adopt the five-bowler policy.
Having said that, the way Tilak carried the burden on his young shoulders has been remarkable.
The sequence of 39 (22 balls), 51 (41 balls) and 49 (37 balls) might be a presage that the Hyderabad left-hander is ready for bigger stages in his career.
He is currently the leading run-scorer in the series with 139 runs while averaging 69.50.
Suryakumar hinted at a possible broadening of role for Tilak, his teammate at Mumbai Indians.
“We’ve batted (together) for a long time now. We both understand each other. It was his day to bat with maturity. He is batting with a lot of confidence and he helped me bat well too,” Suryakumar had said.
Kuldeep Yadav returned to the side for the third T20I and his performance will certainly add to India’s confidence. He had missed the second T20I with a sore thumb.
The left-arm wrist spinner bagged three wickets, conceding 28 runs from four overs.
West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran has been a thorn in India’s flesh the whole series, but Kuldeep snaffled him before the left-hander blossomed.
Overall, three spinners — Kuldeep, Axar, Yuzvendra Chahal — gave a good account of themselves in the last match, and India will need an encore from them at the Central Broward Stadium.
In the initial part, the pitch here assists the batsmen but it often slips into sluggishness as the match progresses, evidenced by the 11 wins out of 13 matches registered by the team batting first.
As for the West Indies, they will not want to miss a chance to score their first series win over India after 2016 and will look for a far more cohesive display.
India: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Surya Kumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.
West Indies: Rovman Powell (Captain), Kyle Mayers, Johnson Charles, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Obed McCoy, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas, Odean Smith.
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