Dominance in Tests and ODIs and diffidence in T20Is defined India’s performance during the latest tour of the West Indies. The Test series was claimed at 2-0, the ODI jousts at 2-1 while the T20I series was lost at 2-3. Against an opposition that has been on a downward spiral for a while, India was expected to romp home across all three formats. However, given the way the tour shaped up, even if status quo was largely maintained in Tests and ODIs, the T20Is threw up a lot of questions. That the conventional 50-over World Cup will be held in India across October and November while the West Indies and the United States will host the ICC T20 World Cup next year, meant that the Indian unit had to have both an immediate focus and equally a long-term vision. Yet, the signals emanating from the Caribbean proved to be mixed. Coach Rahul Dravid, a former star with impeccable credentials and enormous stature, seems to have an immunity when it comes to the perception-game which somehow eluded his predecessor Ravi Shastri even when the results under the latter were far superior. If this year’s World Cup is the focus then the inexplicable resting of skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli during the second and third ODIs, seemed baffling.
In the subsequent T20Is, the squad under captain Hardik Pandya performed in a lukewarm fashion. The first two games were lost before India pulled back in the third and fourth while in the climactic fifth clash in Florida, the West Indies prevailed. The men from the Caribbean may seem dull in Tests and ODIs but in T20Is they are high on confidence. With many of its players having gained exposure from the various T20 leagues, plus with the history of having won the ICC T20 title in 2012 and 2016, the West Indies are placed better in cricket’s shortest format. India may take heart from the results in the Tests and ODIs while in the T20Is, more work needs to be done. Four key players — Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and K.L. Rahul — missing in the ranks due to fitness issues, did affect the composition of India’s various outfits. Bumrah is now back in the mix ahead of the Ireland tour but queries remain about who would constitute India’s core group in the World Cup. Tilak Varma’s runs in T20Is augur well but as the Indians return home, a sense of ambiguity lingers from their Caribbean sojourn.