First big test for India with Gayle likely to return
Match factsFriday, June 12
Start time 1730 local (1630 GMT)
The business end of the tournament is about to begin for India, who have gone into the Super Eights under-tested. They have gone about their task effectively though, and without fuss, and facing them are a side who have been a total contrast. West Indies have been unpredictable, mercurial at times and pedestrian otherwise, and have relied on individual performances to lift them up.
Beware the individual spark though. The kind of innings Chris Gayle played against Australia can beat any team in the world on its own. The team officials are confident Gayle will be back for this match after he missed the inconsequential league game against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. India's counterpart of Gayle, the man capable of playing a similar innings at the top, Virender Sehwag, is not in town. Now starts the real test of how well Rohit Sharma can fill the opener's slot.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
The only worry so far has been their bowling at the death. In their two warm-up games, they gave away 31 and 39 in their last two overs, and Ireland managed 39 off the last three in the final league game.
West Indies: LWWLW(T)
Lendl Simmons, Gayle's replacement for the match against Sri Lanka, has given West Indies plenty to think about. His bowling figures of 3-0-19-4 first kept Sri Lanka to under 200, and then his 19-ball 29 got West Indies to some sort of a start in their chase.
Watch out for...
India's spin twins: West Indies clearly relished the pace of Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee, but against Sri Lankan quality spin bowling they struggled. Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha are not quite your Murali and Mendis, but they are good enough to test West Indies.
Gayle comes back with immense possibility at the top, inspirational leadership, and canny offbreaks. How long he stays at the crease could spell West Indies' fate.
India don't really have major reasons to fiddle around with their winning combination. Except for Irfan Pathan, who provides them with an interesting dilemma. Against Bangladesh, he came out in the last over and hit a six and a four right away, which proved to be the difference between a difficult and an improbable chase. But his bowling has been the weak link in the Indian attack: against Bangladesh his two overs went for 20, and against Ireland his 15-run over in the end took the total past 100. Specialist bowlers in Praveen Kumar or RP Singh, or bits-and-pieces allrounder in Irfan Pathan?
India: (probable) 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Harbhajan Singh, 8 Zaheer Khan, 9 Irfan Pathan/Praveen Kumar/RP Singh, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Ishant Sharma
Whose place does Gayle take? Simmons will be difficult to push out, which makes Xavier Marshall and Kieron Pollard the prime suspects.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Andre Fletcher, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6&7 Lendl Simmons/Xavier Marshall/Kieron Pollard, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Fidel Edwards, 11 Suleiman Benn.
Stats and Trivia
- India and West Indies haven't yet faced each other in Twenty20 internationals.
- MS Dhoni's strike-rate in Twnety20 internationals is 105.8, Shivnarine Chanderpaul's is 99.36.
"We had options for back-up openers, Yusuf and I were also spoken about. But Rohit was in good form in the IPL and has grabbed his chance with both hands."
MS Dhoni speaks about India's new opener, Rohit Sharma
"It will be a big boost for us. With his [Gayle's] presence in the team all the guys' confidence will be up."
Denesh Ramdin, who captained West Indies in Gayle's absence
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo