Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Bowling discipline key for West Indies after opening defeat

Chahal all set to overtake Ashwin  (2:57)

Also, the potential return of Pooran, West Indies' bowling discipline and other factors that could define the Thiruvananthapuram T20I (2:57)

Big picture

West Indies seldom put all their best T20 stars on the park at the same time, so watching them between world tournaments is often an exercise in fantasy squad building. If this guy weren't playing Global T20 Moldova, and if that other chap recovers from that knee injury…

It's also the reason why their performances since the 2016 World T20 - 12 wins, 26 losses - and even their more recent form - nine losses in their last ten games - feels less alarming than it looks. Sure, they have been losing a lot of games, but who's going to bet against them when next year's T20 World Cup rolls around?

West Indies' display in Hyderabad summed up the above. A line-up packed with power-hitters - but missing three or four other, equally gifted hitters - posted a big total, but their bowlers lost control of the game in dewy conditions, and India won with ease. West Indies lost, but the dormant-superpower narrative remained intact.

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Losses like that might turn into wins if West Indies can assemble their best squad more often, but it can also happen if their bowlers get their act together. India completed their chase of 208 in 18.4 overs, and while that's 112 balls in theory, they actually got to face 123, thanks to all the wides and no-balls.

There will probably be dew in Thiruvananthapuram too, and sweaty palms thanks to the muggy heat, so West Indies' bowling discipline will once again come under the spotlight.

India, meanwhile, have a long-term issue of their own to address - or sidestep, depending on how the toss goes. You probably already know this, but it's worth reiterating: since the start of 2018, India have a 14-3 record while chasing, which becomes 8-7 when they bat first.

They hunted down their biggest-ever T20I target on Friday, and did so with ease, but it's still not certain that their batsmen know how to approach innings when they don't have a required rate in mind. Thiruvananthapuram may or may not give us answers to that particular puzzle.

Form guide

India WWWLL (last five completed games, most recent first)
West Indies LLLWL

In the spotlight

Yuzvendra Chahal needs one wicket to go past R Ashwin and become India's highest wicket-taker in T20Is. The selectors left him out of India's squads for the tour of the West Indies and the home series against South Africa, in order to try a few new options, but since his return, Chahal has reiterated his value in the shortest format. He bowls the difficult overs, uses his variations intelligently, reads batsmen's intentions better than most spinners, and picks up key wickets - as he showed by dismissing Shimron Hetmyer and Kieron Pollard in the 18th over in Hyderabad, to help keep West Indies from posting an even bigger total.

He took a beating at Virat Kohli's hands in Hyderabad, and finished with the worst-ever T20I figures by a West Indies bowler, but Kesrick Williams knows that such days are part and parcel of a T20 bowler's life. West Indies understand the value of his cutters and pace variations - among bowlers from Test-playing teams with a minimum of 20 wickets, he has the fourth-best strike rate of all time - and if the Thiruvananthapuram pitch offers a bit of grip, India might find him a little harder to put away.

Team news

India don't usually tinker much when series are still alive, which means Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Shami might have to continue waiting their turn.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Shreyas Iyer, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Nicholas Pooran will most likely return to West Indies' line-up after serving his four-match ban for ball-tampering, and take the keeping gloves from Denesh Ramdin. Fabian Allen missed the first game with a knee injury, and it's unclear if he's recovered enough to play in Thiruvananthapuram.

West Indies (probable): 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Brandon King, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Khary Pierre, 9 Kesrick Williams, 10 Sheldon Cottrell, 11 Hayden Walsh

Pitch and conditions

The Greenfield International Stadium has only hosted two international games - an ODI and a rain-affected T20I - and slow turn was a feature of both games. The ground hosted 14 games during the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (India's domestic T20 tournament), and spinners did well once again, averaging 20.85 and conceding 6.35 runs per over.

The weather is likely to be hot and humid, with a slight chance of rain.

Stats and trivia

  • Rohit Sharma (2547) and Virat Kohli (2544) are neck-and-neck at the top of the global T20I run charts.

  • West Indies don't have great memories of Thiruvananthapuram. They have played one game here, an ODI in November 2018, which they lost by nine wickets after being bowled out for 104.

  • West Indies hit a lot of sixes, but not fours. Among the 12 Test-playing teams, they have the worst balls-per-four ratio (11.40) since the end of the 2016 World T20 - England lead the way at 8.04 - and the third-best balls-per-six ratio (15.85) behind New Zealand (13.96) and Afghanistan (14.64). India sit in the middle of the pack on both counts, with the sixth-best balls-per-six ratio (17.64) and the seventh-best balls-per-four figure (8.63)

West Indies 2nd innings Partnerships

1st73LMP SimmonsE Lewis
2nd39LMP SimmonsSO Hetmyer
3rd61LMP SimmonsN Pooran