After a convincing victory in the first T20 International, India will be keen to seal the three-match series when they face West Indies in the second T20I in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
In the last 13 months, India have played the West Indies in seven T20Is with the former coming up trumps every single time. The hosts had claimed the season’s first T20I series win at home last month, beating Bangladesh 2-1.
A win on Sunday will not only help India seal the series but also give them a chance to test the fringe players in the final T20I as they continue their preparation for the T20 World Cup next year.
India pulled off their highest successful run chase in a T20 International on Friday night as they chased down a challenging 207/5, posted by the Windies, in 18.4 overs. If KL Rahul set the platform with a 40-ball 62, skipper Virat Kohli finished the job with a career-best 94 not out.
Rahul looked in sublime touch with a well-compiled half-century after being promoted to open in the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan. The Karnataka batsman became the third-fastest man to complete 1,000 runs in T20Is (29 innings) on the way to his half-century.
Rishabh Pant showed promise in his brief stay at the crease before being holed out at long-off and the wicketkeeper batsman, who has come under the scanner for his inconsistent form with the bat, will look to grab his opportunity on Sunday.
While the batting led by Kohli put up a good show, the bowlers found themselves at the receiving end of some power-hitting by West Indies batsmen Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer and captain Kieron Pollard.
Deepak Chahar, who was impressive in the preceding series against South Africa and Bangladesh, found the going tough as the West Indian batsmen went after him. He took one wicket but gave away 54 runs. The right-arm swing bowler will look to keep things tight in the powerplay on Sunday.
Washington Sundar, too, has not been at his best of late, claiming just two wickets in his last six T20Is. The 20-year-old from Chennai got the stick from the Windies batsmen and it remains to be seen if India sticks to the same bowling unit or brings in wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav on Sunday.
In the fielding department, too, India were far from impressive, with Sundar and Rohit Sharma dropping a few catches apart from numerous misfields, and the hosts will look to quickly pull up their socks.
The Windies, on the other hand, will be desperate to bounce back and keep the series alive but for that they will have to find a way to stop the Indian batsmen, led by Kohli.
The visiting team’s bowlers appeared clueless as Kohli went on the offensive on Friday. Pacer Kesrick Williams conceded 60 runs from 3.4 overs and would be lucky to keep a place in the playing XI on Sunday.
Skipper Pollard would want the experienced Jason Holder (46/0) and Sheldon Cottrell (1/24) to provide wickets in the initial overs to stymie a formidable Indian batting unit.
The visitors also gave away 23 runs in extras, an area which needs immediate attention if they have to put India under pressure.
Pollard admitted that his side failed to execute its plans properly and would hope for an improved performance if they have to take the series to the decider and avenge their 0-3 loss to the same opponent in their own backyard in August.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Sanju Samson.
West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Brandon King, Denesh Ramdin, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Sherfane Rutherford, Shimron Hetmyer, Khary Pierre, Lendl Simmons, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr, Keemo Paul, Kesrick Williams.
Match starts 7 pm IST.
(With inputs from PTI)