Since the heart-breaking semi-final defeat against New Zealand in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup in England, Indian fans have been inconsolable. In a heartening development, it seems that the Indian national team has put the loss behind it, and already started regaining lost moorings in a month-long tour of the USA & the West Indies in 2019.
India Seize T20 Series
India has already taken an unassailable lead in the T20 series, by winning the first two matches in the three-match series. India had to sweat it in the first outing played at Lauderhill, Florida, US, before reaching home with four wickets to spare on Saturday, August 3. Young Navdeep Saini was adjudged the player of the match.
Men in Blue produced a clinical performance in the rain-affected second match played in the same venue, surpassing the Caribbean by 22 runs (D-L method) on Sunday, August 4. Youngsters performed beyond their expectations in both the matches. Krunal Pandey stole the show in the second match and was declared player of the match. The last T20 of the dead rubber is be held in Guyana, the Caribbean on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.
A Chance for WI to Regain Old Fire
This is the time for the hosts West Indies to reassemble and show resilience to produce challenge to the number one Test squad in the world in the remaining three One-Day Internationals and two Test matches. The islanders have to take a leaf or two from the book of their predecessors to show some spirited fighting quality. The present side has no old fire in its belly. Only smog is left, which is not enough to beat any formidable team.
At the outset, it seems like India is the hot favourite in all formats. But cricket is known for its uncertainty. It is an old saying that nothing can be predicted in a cricket match till the last ball is not bowled. The July World Cup final match between England and New Zealand is the latest example in front of us.
Analysis of WI
There was a time when no team would have liked to face the bloodthirsty Caribbean attack. Their batting was rock-solid, along with the acrobatic fielding. So, the Islanders dominated the world cricket scene for almost two decades. In fact, they remained unbeaten in the Test series for 15 years (from 1980 to mid-1995).
They always produced fearsome bowlers and breath-taking stroke hitting batsmen. In the game of cricket, no one can forget the talent and skills of Sobers, Richards, Marshall, Lloyd and so on. Gradually, the decline in West Indies cricket started in the 1990s and now it is considered one of the weakest sides in cricket.
Strength of Men in Blue
On the other hand, the Indian cricket team is replete with sizeable batting and strong bowling prowess in both the segments-pace as well as spin attack. That makes this team the most balanced squad in test cricket. The current side is a blend, with old warhorses and a pool of new talents, to face any situation with ease.
The two-Test series will be played under the World Test Championship (WTC) banner.
India is now ready for its new assignment to present its challenge in the first edition of the World Test Championship. At the outset, Team India is a real contender to win the final of 2109-21 WTC which is scheduled to be held at the Lord’s in 2021.
Return of Saha & Dhawan
The notable return in this series is of wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha in international cricket, after more than a year of a lull. The veteran wicketkeeper-batsman has been inducted in the Test squad along with Rishabh Pant. Shikhar Dhawan retained his place after substantial recovery from his thumb fracture suffered in the World Cup match against Australia.
Inclusion of New Blood
Some new blood has been given chance in ODIs and T20s to get them the required exposure. Among them are players like Shreyas Iyer, Navdeep Saini, and Khaleel Ahmed, who have won the confidence of the selectors and have included in the ODI squad. Meanwhile, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, and Navdeep Saini were named in the T20 squad. Leg spinner Rahul Chahar has been selected due to his notable performance in the IPL and domestic cricket.
Full Schedule of Team India in the Forthcoming Series Against the West Indies (WI):
|1st T20I||August 3, 2019||Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill, Florida|
|2nd T20I||August 4, 2019||Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill, Florida|
|3rd T20I||August 6, 2019||Providence Stadium, Guyana|
|1st ODI||August 8, 2019||Providence Stadium, Guyana|
|2nd ODI||August 11, 2019||Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad|
|3rd ODI||August 14, 2019||Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, Trinidad|
|1st Test||August 22, 2019 – August 26, 2019||Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua|
|2nd Test||August 30, 2019 – September 03, 2019||Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica|
Indian team’s first competitive venture in the Caribbean happened in1952-53. At that time, the means of transport were far removed from the current jet-set style. Team India reached London from India by flight. From London, Indian players had to reach Barbados in boats. This shows the courage and dedication of the former players, who braved so many odds to reach the cricket venues. Since then Men in Blue have visited the West Indies several times.
Maiden Series Win
India’s 1971 tour of the West Indies was historic as well as the turning point of Indian cricket. India won their maiden Test series in the Caribbean, under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar, defeating the mighty WI on their home turf. Sunil Gavaskar made his Test debut in that series and scored heavily. Five test match series ended in favour of India 1-0, when our team won the Port of Spain test by 7 wickets and scripted a new history.
Memorable Test Victory
The 1975-76 series was another memorable one. This series will always figure in the cricketing annals for India’s improbable win against the Clive Lloyd’s strong West Indies side. Bishan Singh Bedi’s team chased a mammoth total of 403 runs and pulled off one of the greatest victories in the history of Test cricket. It was a miracle. The venue was once again Port of Spain. Since then, Team India has always provided a formidable challenge to all the Caribbean sides
At the outset, it seems like the 2019 series would be a cakewalk for Kohli’s boys. At present, West Indies looks like a disjointed side, without the strength and mettle to challenge to Kohli and co. But making a prediction in cricket is nothing if not a dangerous sport!