Big picture: IPL heroes vs CPL stars
For West Indies, this series marks the beginning of a long T20 home season, with the CPL set to begin on August 16, three days after the end of the T20I series against India in Lauderhill, USA. Strong performances in this series – and the following CPL – could help West Indies shape their side for their home T20 World Cup next year.
West Indies WLWLW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
In the spotlight: Powell and Mukesh
Rovman Powell is among West Indies’ leaders in white-ball cricket, but he was dropped for the last two ODIs against India, with Keacy Carty replacing him. He had also been dropped from the ODI side during the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. But Powell is now set to return, this time as the captain of the T20I team, and with a point to prove – particularly against the spinners. Powell has a strike rate of 115.03 only while facing spin in T20 cricket, while that number jumps up to 153.20 against pace.
Mukesh Kumar had to slog for years to make it to India’s squad, but if he gets picked on Thursday, he will end up making his Test, ODI and T20I debuts in a fortnight in the West Indies. Mukesh usually operates in the lower 130kph range, but he can get the ball to skid and seam off the pitch like he did in the ODI series decider in Tarouba on Tuesday. With a number of senior quicks absent once again, Mukesh is likely to get a good run in the five-match T20I series.
Team news: Will India pick an extra spinner?
This will be West Indies’ first T20I under coach Daren Sammy, but there might not be too many changes from the team that toppled South Africa away from home in March. ODI captain Shai Hope might compete with Johnson Charles for the No. 3 spot, even as West Indies will look up to the returning Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer to counter India’s spinners. Hosein could be West Indies’ main spinner after having returned from the MLC.
West Indies (probable): 1 Brandon King, 2 Kyle Mayers, 3 Johnson Charles/Shai Hope (wk), 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Rovman Powell (capt), 7 Roston Chase, 8 Jason Holder, 9 Romario Shepherd/Odean Smith, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Alzarri Joseph/Oshane Thomas
If the pitch that was used for the final ODI is rolled out once again, India might consider bringing in an extra spinner. And it remains to be seen whether the visitors can fit both Kishan and Samson in their XI.
India (probable): 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Ishan Kishan/Sanju Samson (wk), 4 Tilak Varma, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Suryakumar Yadav, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9, Yuzvendra Chahal/Ravi Bishnoi 10, Umran Malik/Avesh Khan 11 Mukesh Kumar
Pitch and conditions: Rain could interrupt the game
Stats and trivia
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo