Kohli’s men should get their act together to avoid series loss


There will be no dearth of support for the Caribbean crusaders

“It’s coming home” was actually the theme song for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but by the time England started living up to the tag of the favourite, it had been adopted as the unofficial theme song for the ICC World Cup earlier this year.

The fans in the Maximum City, while entering the Wankhede Stadium for the deciding rubber of the three-match T20I series between India and West Indies, could well be humming the same song. Not just in anticipation of India’s series triumph but even with multiple “home” connect the match offers, from both the teams.

Three of India’s team members — vice-captain Rohit Sharma, middle-order dasher Shreyas Iyer and the new kid on the block Shivam Dube — are Mumbaikars. While Dube will be keen to continuing in the same vein after making his promotion to No. 3 count in Thiruvananthapuram, Rohit and Shreyas will hope to turn the tables on their home turf after a relatively quiet series so far.

Thanks to the Indian Premier League (IPL) juggernaut, though, support will not be limited to the home team. With Kieron Pollard — who has spent even more years in the Mumbai Indians (MI) camp than captain Rohit — leading the West Indies, there will be no dearth of support for the Caribbean crusaders come Wednesday night. Pollard isn’t the lone member in the opposition camp with a strong local connect, though.

Lendl Simmons, the opener who repeated his World T20 semifinal heroics on Sunday by anchoring a perfect chase against India, has been a star performer in one of MI’s four IPL title runs. So has Evin Lewis, whose twin knocks so far would have reinvigorated interest among IPL franchises for the auction after being released by MI.

If Simmons and Lewis can stage an encore of the strong foundation they laid on Sunday, the Men in Blue will have to play out of their skin in order to avoid the ignominy of conceding the series.

One of the cliches used by cricket teams all around the world is to “focus on our own performance rather than worry about the opposition”. Kohli’s comrades — most of whom preferred to take it easy as only six turned up for Tuesday’s optional practice session — would have to use the same yardstick and make drastic improvement in their performance to avoid the series from slipping away.

In an effort to build the squad with an eye on the T20 World Cup, India may be giving a long rope to some of the fringe players. It has resulted in errors — not just with bat and the ball, but more worryingly in the field — at inopportune times. These errors — two dropped catches in an over in the Powerplay in Thiruvananthapuram, for instance — have proved costly for the team.

If India has to enjoy a home run at the Wankhede, such preliminary mistakes will have to be eliminated. Otherwise the fans will have to sing “it’s coming home” to praise Pollard instead of Kohli.

The teams (from):

India: Virat Kohli (Capt.), Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sanju Samson.

West Indies: Kieron Pollard (Capt.), Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Keemo Paul, Khary Pierre, Denesh Ramdin, Sherfane Rutherford, Hayden Walsh Jr., Fabian Allen, Sheldon Cottrell and Kesrick Williams.

Umpires: Nitin Menon and Nandan; Third umpire: C. Shamshuddin; Fourth umpire: Anil Chaudhary; Match referee: David Boon.

Match starts at 7 p.m.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 6:00:10 PM |

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