West Indies v India
Saturday 3 August 15.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
West Indies need to reverse poor form
Twenty20 should be West Indies' best format. According to ICC rankings, however, they're no better than ninth, which is the same as their ODI position and one spot worse than their Test rating. Still, it is hard to believe that the one-dimensional approach which damned their World Cup chances is not better suited to thrash and bash.
We can expect the West Indies to go hard with bat and ball and to hell with the consequences. The likes of Evin Lewis, Nic Pooran and Shimron Hetymer are dangerous hitters. Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell and Keemo Paul likewise with the ball. This is the new breed.
They are joined by the old guard. Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard are all in the squad. But there is no Chris Gayle. Jason Holder and Shai Hope are also absent. Carlos Brathwaite leads.
Brathwaite has a job on to turn around awful form. They have five wins in two years (19 matches). Against England just before the World Cup they lost three zip with two of the worst batting displays ever seen.
India leave out best bowlers
India didn't seem particularly stung by their disastrous World Cup exit so they might not feel glum about stepping back on to the international treadmill.
Indeed, they have resisted the temptation to rest key batters. The big guns are all here. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan are back as the front three while KL Rahul will be looking to break up the opening pair. Manish
Pandey returns as India once again search for a middle-order finisher. MS Dhoni has decided to spend time with his military regiment which is a relief for the Indian selectors who are terrified of ending his international career.
With Jasprit Bumrah, Yuz Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav absent, the bowling is experimental. Bhuv Kumar will lead the attack with Khaleel Ahmed, the southpaw, and Deepak Chahar eyeing breakthrough series. Washington Sundar, Ravi Jadeja, Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya provide the spin options. There is no Hardik.
Runs flush in Florida
Those with good memories will remember the absolute run glut which was the 2016 meeting between these sides at Lauderhill, Florida. West Indies made 245 and won by one run. The day after West Indies managed only 143 in a washout. Go figure. In the two games after that the first-innings scores were 171 and 184. In all T20 matches the average is 170.
West Indies need to reverse poor form
Given the nature of the wicket this could be a slugfest so it's a black mark for India that they field an inexperienced bowling attack. That may well be enough to take them on a prohibitive odds in the region of 1.574/7.
Of bigger concern at those odds is the toss bias. It's hefty at 72% from 18 games in all T20 for the side batting first. Wouldn't want to be on such a short price if they were chasing, surely?
So it is fair to reckon that West Indies are worth a gamble at 2.608/5, or a bit shorter if there's a cut after the flip. Don't expect anything nuanced or clever from them, though. They will go out and thrash it and hope that's enough.
Lewis and Rohit hard to stop
With no Gayle the onus will be on Lewis for a fast start and there's nothing wrong with siding with him for Windies top-bat honours at around 3s (or better). Lewis has a century, on this ground, against this opposition in the game we mentioned earlier. A word for Pooran, who has been in fine form in the Vitality Blast. There have been prices as big as 5s for him to top score in that competition and a repeat would have us seriously interested.
Rahul, batting at four, notched a century, too in that contest previously but it's brave to take on the openers and Kohli with a number four batsman for top India bat honours. Rohit managed a 50 last time and if he carries on his World Cup form - when he landed big numbers for top run scorer by a single - then he will be hard to stop.