Despite their win in the third T20I that kept them in contention, India remains behind with the Windies leading the series 2-1. This serves as a reminder that concerns persist regarding India’s batting lineup.
Witnessing Suryakumar Yadav switch into “beast mode” and Tilak Varmacontributing crucial runs was certainly reassuring.
However, India’s opening partnership continued to struggle.
While Yashasvi Jaiswal was granted his T20I debut, with Ishan Kishan being rested, the pair at the top order failed to make an impression for the third consecutive match, amassing only six runs. Jaiswal fell victim to pacer Obed McCoy in the very first over.
In the preceding two matches, Kishan and Shubman Gill had only mustered five and 16 runs for the opening wicket, applying pressure on the middle-order.
The decision whether to reinstate Kishan for this match remains uncertain, but the management is hopeful for a more impactful showing from the opening batsmen in this crucial match.
Considering India lacks a dependable lower-order bat, it becomes imperative for the top-order batsmen to deliver. To maintain balance, India has positioned Axar Patel at No. 7 and may persist with the five-bowler strategy.
In this context, Tilak’s ability to shoulder responsibility at a young age has been commendable.
His sequence of scores – 39 (off 22 balls), 51 (off 41 balls), and 49 (off 37 balls) – might foreshadow that the left-handed Hyderabad player is prepared for bigger challenges in his career.
Currently, he leads the run-scoring charts in the series with 139 runs at an average of 69.50.
Suryakumar has hinted at the possibility of Tilak’s role expanding, as they are teammates 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.
(With inputs from PTI)