Big picture – India, West Indies look at the long term
After losing the first two T20Is, India kept the five-match series alive with a thumping win in the third. While, in the long run, the result of this series will matter little, India are looking to try out personnel for the 2024 T20 World Cup – handing Yashasvi Jaiswal a debut in the previous game was a sign of that.
At the same time, they have an eye on the upcoming ODI World Cup, and Tilak Varma has emerged as a strong candidate for the No. 4 slot in that squad. Tilak’s international career is just three T20Is old, but he has impressed everyone with his temperament. Moreover, India don’t have a left-hander in their first-choice top six in ODIs. If picked, he can fill that void too.
India, however, know that success in T20Is is no guarantee for success in ODIs. In the last two years, Suryakumar Yadav has had an extraordinary run in T20Is, but he has himself admitted that his ODI numbers are “really bad”. Tilak’s List A numbers are outstanding, though: 1236 runs in 25 matches at an average of 56.18 and a strike rate of 101.64. He has five hundreds and as many fifties in the format. If they want, India can test him further in the Asia Cup to see where he stands, especially if Shreyas Iyer isn’t fit by then.
West Indies are not going to the ODI World Cup, but under Rovman Powell, they are rebuilding their T20I side. In March, they beat South Africa 2-1 and now have a chance to win back-to-back T20I series for the first time since 2017.
So far, this has been a series of middling totals. But that could change as the caravan moves to Lauderhill in the USA for the last two games.
West Indies LWWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first) India WLLWW
In the spotlight – Shimron Hetmyer and Shubman Gill
After the first T20I, Powell said that the series would be decided by how his left-hand batters, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, play spin in the middle overs. While Pooran seems to have hit a purple patch, Hetmyer has looked off-colour. Playing for West Indies after almost a year, Hetmyer had scores of 11, 9 and 4 in the ODI series. In three T20Is so far, he has managed 10 off 12, 22 off 22 and 9 off 8. Can he turn it around on Friday and help West Indies win the series?
Shubman Gill finished the ODI series as the second-highest run-getter, his tally of 126 taking him to No. 5 in the ICC ODI batters’ rankings. However, runs have been hard to come by in the T20I series: Gill has been dismissed in single digits in all three innings. With India’s tail starting from No. 8, they would want bigger contributions from him in the remaining two games.
If fit, Jason Holder should replace Roston Chase. West Indies can also consider bringing in Shai Hope for one of Brandon King and Johnson Charles.
West Indies (probable): 1 Kyle Mayers, 2 Brandon King, 3 Johnson Charles, 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Rovman Powell (capt), 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Jason Holder/Roston Chase, 8 Romario Shepherd, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Obed McCoy
Expect India to stick with the same XI that won them the third T20I.
In the last two T20Is played in Lauderhill, India – batting first both times – posted 191 for 5 and 188 for 7. They won both. In fact, teams batting first have won 11 of the 13 completed T20Is played here. However, a 47% chance of rain in the afternoon may be a temptation for chasing.