New-look Windies look to sal­vage hon­our in T20s

Stabroek News Sunday - - SUNDAY SPORT -

KOLKATA, In­dia, CMC

– A weak­ened but still dan­ger­ous West Indies clash with pow­er­houses In­dia in the open­ing Twenty20 In­ter­na­tional here to­day, hop­ing to spring a sur­prise and also halt their de­cline in what has be­come their most suc­cess­ful for­mat.

For the clash at his­toric Eden Gar­dens, there will be no Chris Gayle – the most suc­cess­ful bats­man ever in T20s – nor any Evin Lewis, who has al­ready plun­dered two cen­turies in 17 matches. The reign­ing World cham­pi­ons will also be with­out ex­plo­sive all-rounder An­dre Rus­sell and also off-spin­ner Su­nil Narine, both of whom are in­jured.

It means West Indies start the se­ries with an in­ex­pe­ri­enced side, com­pris­ing five debu­tants, while fast bowler Keemo Paul and bats­men Shai Hope, Shim­ron Het­myer and Ni­cholas Pooran have played only 15 matches among them.

Left-han­der Dar­ren Bravo, mean­while, has not played in­ter­na­tional cricket in two years be­cause of a pro­tracted dis­pute with Cricket West Indies, and the last of his 12 T20s came four years ago.

With Rov­man Pow­ell still new to in­ter­na­tional cricket, much then will rest on the shoul­ders of vet­er­ans Kieron Pol­lard and De­nesh Ramdin, while cap­tain Car­los Brath­waite’s role will also be piv­otal.

How­ever, though short on ex­pe­ri­ence, Brath­waite backed the squad to make their mark, point­ing out that the young stars were up for the chal­lenge.“We have a new team – a young, ex­cit­ing team – and our [Caribbean Premier League] stars, how­ever young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced they may be, are ready and rar­ing to go,” Brath­waite told a me­dia con­fer­ence here Satur­day.

“Some of them had a taste in the ODI for­mat and I per­son­ally think we did a lot bet­ter than a lot of peo­ple ex­pected in the ODI for­mat, and it’s for us to come in the T20 for­mat now and create an even big­ger sur­prise and come away with the tro­phy at the end of the se­ries.

“What we have to face at this point in time is with the squad that we have, which in my opin­ion is a very ex­cit­ing squad and it’s for us to find a way to get the best out of each and ev­ery player in that squad, to not only chal­lenge and com­pete but come out vic­to­ri­ous against the In­dian team.”

Since cap­tur­ing the T20 World Cup two years ago un­der the now-dis­carded Dar­ren Sammy, the Caribbean has strug­gled, los­ing 13 of their 23 out­ings. In­side the last 12 months, they have won just one of nine matches.

In con­trast, In­dia have won 11 of their last 14 T20Is in­side the last years, and with the in-form Ro­hit Sharma lead­ing a strong squad, pun­dits have un­der­stand­ably held out lit­tle hope for the Windies.

How­ever, Brath­waite said there was no shame in be­ing la­belled un­der­dogs, es­pe­cially against a strong side home-side.

“In­dia at home in any for­mat are very for­mi­da­ble, es­pe­cially with the ad­vent of IPL and the amount of T20 cricket that the In­dian su­per­stars play – they def­i­nitely start as favourites,” he pointed out.

“I guess we’re not ac­cus­tomed to the un­der­dog tag but we have to take it this time around and it’s not some­thing we’re ashamed of really.”

West Indies have got­ten the bet­ter of In­dia in their re­cent meet­ings. Last year July, they stunned the In­di­ans by nine wick­ets in Ja­maica and the pre­vi­ous year, won a one-run thriller in Florida.

Months ear­lier, the Windies had also over­come the In­di­ans in Mum­bai, in the semi-fi­nal of the T20 World Cup, and Brath­waite said he was hop­ing for sim­i­lar re­sults in the three-match se­ries.

“I was for­tu­nate to be a part of one those games in Mi­ami which was very, very ex­cit­ing,” the all­rounder said.

“I know the crowd in Kolkata is al­ways mas­sive so it’s very, very loud. Hope­fully we can play a cou­ple more games such as the one in Mi­ami [and] the one in Ja­maica which we also came out on top of.

“Hope­fully we can have as ex­cit­ing a bat­tle as we’ve had in those two games and hope­fully we can get the same re­sult with the West Indies com­ing out on top.”

West Indies have en­dured a dif­fi­cult tour, los­ing both Tests in­side three days and then go­ing down 3-1 in the sub­se­quent one-day se­ries.

SQUADS: IN­DIA

– Ro­hit Sharma (cap­tain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Man­ish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya, Wash­ing­ton Sun­dar, Yuzven­dra Cha­hal, Kuldeep Ya­dav, Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar, Bum­rah, Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Ya­dav, Shah­baz Nadeem.

– Car­los Brath­waite (cap­tain), Fabian Allen, Dar­ren Bravo, Shim­ron Het­myer, Shai Hope, Obed McCoy, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Kieron Pol­lard, Ni­cholas Pooran, Rov­man Pow­ell, De­nesh Ramdin, Sher­fane Ruther­ford, Oshane Thomas.

WEST INDIES

West Indies T20 skip­per, Car­los Brath­waite.

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