Lauderhill       -     One of the things Virat Kohli spoke about in his press conference before leaving India was the opportunity the cricket calendar - with three forms of the game - afforded in getting over defeats that sting. India have had almost a month to lick their wounds after the loss against New Zealand in the World Cup 2019 semi-final. Now, with the World Test Championship getting underway and the T20 World Cup in 14 months, there are already fresh challenges to prepare for.

Their tour of the Caribbean begins with the three-match T20I series, with the first two matches in Lauderhill. The last time these teams played at Lauderhill, one match was rained out, and the other ended in a thrilling manner, with West Indies winning by just one run. Three years on, the current series forms an interesting clash of cricketing ethos. While India have often brought an ODI approach to 20-overs cricket, West Indies played large tracts of the World Cup as if in T20 mode.

These games could be the first ones in which each team begins putting together pieces for the T20 World Cup next year. India have an influx of younger players, with some changes enforced by absence and injury. West Indies are without Chris Gayle, whose international future even in the medium term seems uncertain at best. That could be a blessing, because it will allow West Indies to try out a replacement, keeping the T20 World Cup in mind.

You could argue that there is never a moment when Virat Kohli is not under the spotlight, but there are a couple of factors that could intensify the focus on him. The rumblings about a rift with vice-captain Rohit Sharma had kept swirling, until Kohli emphatically denied them. Whether there is a rift or not, or a bromance, or a normal disagreement between colleagues that is commonplace and transient - there will be extra meaning attached every time Kohli and Rohit come within each other’s radius. India are without MS Dhoni for this tour. Ever since Kohli became the full-time limited-overs captain in early 2017, he has played just four T20Is and three ODIs without Dhoni in the team. But with Dhoni’s future uncertain, the Indian think-tank might need to get used to life without the senior pro, and that puts greater onus on Kohli, the captain.

The last time Sunil Narine played for West Indies was back in September 2017. Since then Narine has been part of various T20 leagues - the Indian Premier League, Pakistan Super League, the Bangladesh Premier League and the Caribbean Premier League - but hasn’t played an international match. He’s even played List A matches in the Super50 Cup in the Caribbean. He opted out of selection for the World Cup, citing concerns about his fitness to last 50 overs and bowl his full quota of 10, but he’s back in national colours for his favourite format. Narine has also evolved as a potent batting force, though he’s unlikely to get to bat in the Powerplay, where his hitting has been at its most effective.

India have some new faces in the squad, but there’s still an abundance of options who are most at home batting in the top three. Regular openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan are back together with Dhawan having recovered from his broken finger, and there’s Kohli. In addition, they have KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. At least two of those three seem certain to bat out of position, which can be a distinct contrast in a 20-overs game. The wristspinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested, which should give the team management the option to try a number of exciting options.


India XI (probable): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (capt), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey/Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar/Navdeep Saini, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Rahul Chahar

West Indies XI (probable): John Campbell, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Carlos Brathwaite (capt), Sunil Narine, Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Keemo Paul/Oshane Thomas.w