India will look to continue their recent good form in white-ball cricket as they face West Indies in the first T20 International of the three-match series at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday. Led by Rohit Sharma, the hosts swept the preceding ODI series 3-0.

The big cricketing highlight over the weekend was the mega Indian Premier League auction, which saw a number of players in India’s current T20 squad fetch massive bids.

Ishan Kishan bagged the highest price, with Mumbai Indians securing his services for a whopping Rs 15.25 crore. Pacer Harshal Patel was signed by Royal Challengers Bangalore for over a million dollars.

Other up and coming squad members were also lapped up at eye-popping prices, including Shreyas Iyer (Rs 12.25) and Deepak Chahar (Rs 14 crore).

Sharma said he had asked the players to focus on the three-match series beginning at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday.

They will have gone through “ups and downs” at the auction, he told a virtual press conference ahead of the T20 series.

“It is an emotional feeling which team you are going to play for and all,” he said.

“Yesterday I had a great meeting with the boys, I asked them to focus on the colour blue, which is most important,” he added, referring to India’s one-day uniform. All these guys are professionals, once they are in India colours nothing else matters.”

The IPL – the world’s most lucrative cricket tournament – should not overshadow international commitments, the 34-year-old said, adding they play in the competition for just two months in a year, compared to 10 months for India.

“So I just want to focus on what we do for Team India and that’s what matters.”

The Indian captain sprung to the defence of star batsman Virat Kohli who has been going through a lean patch with the bat.

“He is in a great mental space from whatever I see of him. He has been part of this international team for more than a decade,” said Sharma.

“If someone has spent that much time in international cricket, they know how to handle the pressure situations, the environment, everything.”

He blamed the media for Kohli’s performance, telling reporters: “If you guys can keep it quiet for a bit, then everything will fall into place.”

The second T20 will be played on Friday followed by the third and final game on Sunday.


India: Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (w), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Avesh Khan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravi Bishnoi.

West Indies: Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran (w), Rovman Powell, Kieron Pollard (c), Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Akeal Hosein, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Hayden Walsh.

Inputs from AFP