India’s misfiring batters in the spotlight as West Indies eye series win

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West Indies, 2-0 up with three T20Is remaining, have the chance to win their first series of two or more matches against India, in any format, since 2016. They also have the chance to complete back-to-back T20I series victories for the first time since 2017.

If they manage to pull it off, it will be a massive confidence boost for West Indies, who will be co-hosting a T20 World Cup less than a year from now.

Whether they can seal the series on Tuesday at Providence (from 10:30h) may come down once again to how they tackle India’s spinners, which they did quite well in the first two matches.

At the forefront of their success has been Nicholas Pooran, who, along with Shimron Hetmyer, has been tasked with taking on India’s wrist-spinners.

Pooran has done the job to perfection, leading the counterattacks on both occasions. The bowlers have also been on point with their execution, mixing it up on pitches that have been two-paced.

West Indies have also come out on top in the game of nerves so far: while their bowlers closed out the series-opener on Thursday, their batters did the same in the second game after the team had lost four wickets for three runs in a space of 13 balls.

While the likes of Rovman Powell and Hetmyer have offered Pooran support with the bat, West Indies will expect more runs from their top three.

India, meanwhile, have mostly been let down by their batting. While their long tail has been an issue, their top and middle order, barring Tilak Varma, have struggled to get going on the sluggish surfaces.

Romario Shepherd (second right) has been impressive with the ball thus far (Photo: Associated Press)

In the spotlight – Hardik Pandya and Kyle Mayers

India captain Hardik Pandya has exuded cool-guy energy despite the losses. “It is what it is,” he said, rather philosophically, after their loss on Sunday.

While he’s found his bowling rhythm, his batting has not reached its usual level, and he’s also been under scrutiny for his tactics on the field.

In the first T20I, Hardik gave the last over of the Powerplay to Axar Patel, despite the in-form and left-handed Pooran’s presence in the middle; that over ended up costing 14 runs.

In the second T20I, Hardik did not bowl out his best bowler – Yuzvendra Chahal – during a nail-biting chase when West Indies’ lower-order was struggling.

The constant presence of left-handers at the crease also meant Axar ended up playing as a pure batter in the second T20I, after being taken for 22 runs in two overs in the first game.

Kyle Mayers had a superb IPL season, but he’s not been able to replicate that form while playing for West Indies. After a middling ODI series, he’s made 1 and 15 in the first two T20Is. His T20I average is currently 20.75. West Indies have continued to show faith in him despite this, and he will hope to contribute consistently in the top order, which has been one of the team’s weak links in this series.

Team news – Will India bring in Yashasvi Jaiswal?

The hosts are unlikely to make too many changes to their winning combination.

West Indies (probable): 1 Brandon King, 2 Kyle Mayers, 3 Johnson Charles (wk), 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Rovman Powell (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Romario Shepherd, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Obed McCoy

Will India consider bringing in Yashasvi Jaiswal to lengthen their batting? They could bring him in for Ishan Kishan, who has averaged 12.12 in eight T20Is since the start of this year, considering they have another wicketkeeping option in Sanju Samson.

India may also want to bring back Kuldeep Yadav – who was out of the second T20I after being hit in the nets – if he’s fit. Ravi Bishnoi, who replaced him, went wicketless for 31 runs.

India (probable): 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Ishan Kishan/Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Tilak Varma, 5 Hardik Pandya (capt), 6 Sanju Samson (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Mukesh Kumar (ESPNcricinfo)

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