A weakened but still risky West Indies will clash with powerhouses India in the opening Twenty20 worldwide here Sunday, hoping to spring a surprise and also halt their decline in what has become their most successful format.
Chief selector MSK Prasad also said that it was not the end of the road for Dhoni in T20Is. The reigning World champions will also be without explosive all-rounder Andre Russell and also off-spinner Sunil Narine, both of whom are injured.
Carlos Brathwaite has been tasked with the responsibility of helping West Indies finish the year on a high.
Russell was one of seven players supposed to join the T20I squad over the last three days, but his absence during the training sessions at Eden Gardens - his home ground in the IPL - was conspicuous.
West Indies have gotten the better of India in their recent meetings. In the following five-match ODI series, they posed some challenge before being thrashed 1-3 with a nine-wicket loss in Thiruvananthapuram in the final one-dayer. He would look to carry his fine form from the ODI series, in which he finished behind Kohli, with 389 runs, at a staggering average of 129.66.
Keeping in mind the World T20 in 2020, India have picked three uncapped players (Krunal, S Nadeem and Khaleel) for this and the Australia series, aside from bringing back the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Washington Sundar to the squad.
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In 2018, Dhoni, who has also captained India to 50-over World Cup glory in 2011, managed only 245 runs at 27.22 in 17 matches.
The Windies, on the other hand, will look forward to their youngster Shimron Hetmeyer, who scored 259 runs in the ODI series, including a century in Guwahati.
As per the latest ICC rankings, India, however, are way ahead of the Windies. His absence gives Rishabh Pant a chance to prove his credentials.
It means West Indies start the series with an inexperienced side, comprising five debutants, while fast bowler Keemo Paul and batsmen Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran have played only 15 matches among them.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant (wk), Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal.