India were outclassed in the World T20 2018 semi-final in the Caribbean. A year later, the same soil has healed the team though it has come in a bilateral series against West Indies. India, with an unassailable lead of 4-0, will aim to whitewash the hosts when the sides meet for the fifth and final T20I on Wednesday (November 20).
Harmanpreet Kaur’s young India were challenged in each game, but as a collective unit they have come out with flying colours – different players stepping up each time. The first couple of games saw batters putting up competitive totals to give their bowlers sufficient runs to defend. Although the last match, the fourth T20I, witnessed a batting collapse, the spinners lived up to the expectations and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
This risk-taking India went on to rest their most reliable player, Smriti Mandhana, to test their bench strength, giving a game to Harleen Deol. The plan took an absurd route with the team sending Veda Krishnamurthy at number three before the spinners Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, and Anuja Patil came in to rescue the rain-hit match.
As India look to finalise players for the upcoming tri-series followed by the T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia, perhaps, this mistake could be an alarm to better execute laid down plans to avoid putting bowlers under pressure each time.
West Indies, on the other hand, managed to nearly remove the tag of being an understrength team and surprised India with their bowling led by Hayley Matthews, who was supported by Afy Fletcher and Sheneta Grimmond, before falling short by five runs. The lineup heavily depends on Matthews to give a brilliant start with the bat. However, she in return is desperately looking for support from the likes of Chedean Nation, Shemaine Campbelle and Natasha McLean.
The absence of all-rounders Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin is hurting the hosts but West Indies led by Anisa Mohammed and the presence of experienced Matthews has helped in building the confidence of the team and this mindset could possibly ensure avoiding the whitewash.
It will be interesting to see whether West Indies can change the ending of the script despite India being the favourites to clean sweep the five-match T20I series.
West Indies: Anisa Mohammed (c), Aaliyah Alleyne, Afy Fletcher, Shakera Selman, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Stacy-Ann King, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Shabika Gajnabi, Shemaine Campbelle (vc), Sheneta Grimmond, Cherry-Ann Fraser.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Veda Krishnamurthy, Anuja Patil, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy.