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India vs West Indies: T20 cricket set to unfold new chapter in USA

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

It was not long ago when India and West Indies locked horns at the Wankhede stadium for a place in the final of the coveted 2016 World T20 tournament. A scintillating encounter was on cards with home favourites India looking to edge past the resilient Windies.

But despite Virat Kohli's heroics in the semifinals, the title contenders India were handed a crushing defeat following the batting masterclass of Lendl Simmons and Marlon Samuels. The summit clash proved no different as the Caribbean boys, riding on the quickfire innings of Carlos Brathwaite, steamrolled England to win the World T20 title.

If the final game saw the emotions soaring, the presentation ceremony that followed was equally controversial. While Samuels attacked his infamous critic Shane Warne with bold words, Darren Sammy voiced his criticism against the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

Almost five months later, the two teams are set to renew their rivalry in the shortest version of the game. The sub-continent giants will take on the reigning World T20 champions in the two-match series slated to begin on 27 August in Florida, USA.

While India will be looking to avenge their seven-wicket loss in the semifinals, the Windies will be eager to bounce back from the 0-2 hammering in the recently-concluded Test series.

What is at stake?

After India lost their world number 1 rank in the Tests to Pakistan, the Men in Blue will now have to defend their second position in the T20 rankings.

India are currently placed on 128 points, four points behind table leader New Zealand, while third-ranked West Indies is on 122 points.

A 2-0 win for India will help them join number-one ranked New Zealand on 132 points but the Asian side will be ranked second when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point. In this scenario, the West Indies will slip to the fourth position with 118 points, one point behind South Africa.

A 1-1 series draw will keep India ahead on 128 points with West Indies on 123 points.

Dhoni's return

The two-match T20 series will witness the return of India's limited-overs captain MS Dhoni to international cricket.

The last time Dhoni marshaled his troops on the cricket field dates back to June when he led the young Indian team to 3-0 win in ODI series and 2-1 triumphs in T20Is.

Dhoni, India's most-trusted leader, boasts an impeccable record in the shortest version of the game. Arguably the most-successful captain in T20Is, Dhoni boasts of 42 wins in 70 matches with a winning percentage of 60.

Apart from Dhoni, the 14-member Indian team will see the return of as many as 11 regular players who were rested from the tour to Zimbabwe in May earlier this year.

Virat or Gayle, who will prevail?

The power-packed series also brings two of the most destructive batsmen in T20 cricket - Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle - on show. While Gayle will lead the batting charge for the Windies early on, India will be counting on the sublime form of Kohli to overcome the Windies challenge.

In the 43 T20Is he has played, Kohli has amassed 1,641 runs at an average of just under 59. His Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate Gayle, on the other hand, has scored 1,519 runs with an average of 35.32 in 50 T20Is so far.

As far as recent form is concerned, Kohli - currently the top-ranked T20I batsman - has scored 273 runs including three fifties in his last five T20Is innings. When compared with Kohli's form, the Jamaican marauder falls short yet again with just 113 runs in his last five T20Is innings.

Barring the stats, both the batsmen are equally dangerous and more than capable of taking the game away from the opposition on a given day.

US market

The two-match series is going to be the first of what will develop into an annual event in the USA as part of efforts to reach out to new markets and audiences. The series is of immense significance and historic relevance because it will be the Indian team's first official cricket engagement in the USA.

"This initiative is path-breaking in terms of expansion of our great sport. It is our endeavour to make every possible effort to connect with fans in different parts of the world," BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke had said of the decision.

West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President, Whycliffe 'Dave' Cameron also welcomed the decision, saying: "This will be a great initiative in our continued efforts to develop cricket in the Americas (North and South America) a very important market.

T20I squads

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c/wk), Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite (c), Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Evin Lewis, Jason Holder, Lendl Simmons

First published: 27 August 2016, 6:00 IST
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.