Monday, Aug 08, 2022
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IND Vs WI: Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad Likely To Play As India Look To Test Bench Strength In 3rd T20I

Despite winning the Orange Cap in the Indian Premier League 2021, Ruturaj Gaikwad has been travelling with the Indian team warming the bench.  

Ruturaj Gaikwad (R) during India's training session at the Eden Gardens.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (R) during India's training session at the Eden Gardens. BCCI

The series in their bag, India will have the liberty to experiment in the third and final T20 international against the West Indies at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. (More Cricket News)

With Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant given a 10-day break, the home team is set to finally include the gifted Shreyas Iyer and Ruturaj Gaikwad in the playing XI.

Under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, India secured their third successive series win with an eight-run win over the West Indies in the second T20 on Friday.

With the T20 World Cup scheduled in less than eight months’ time in Australia, Rohit would look to try out new options, beginning with finding a reserve opener.

In the absence of KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan has failed to impress at the top of the order and his place could be given to the talented Gaikwad, who has been warming the bench until now.

Playing the series just after he became the most expensive buy of the IPL 2022 mega auction -- he was bought back by Mumbai Indians for a staggering Rs 15.25 crore -- the Jharkhand left-hander has struggled to get going.

After his anxious 42-ball 35 in the first match, Ishan could manage just two runs from 10 balls in the second game. It remains to be seen if Rohit gives one more chance to his Mumbai Indians teammate or bring in Gaikwad.

With the Sri Lanka T20I series up next, it may not be a bad idea to give Ishan a longer run. In the middle-order, Shreyas will replace Kohli, who has been given a much-needed break ahead of his landmark 100th Test.

The former India captain will miss the T20I series against Sri Lanka and return for the Tests against the islanders. Shreyas, who was the third biggest buy at the IPL auction but could not fit into India's T20 combination for the first two matches against the West Indies, will be the obvious choice.

Recently appointed as Kolkata Knight Riders skipper, Shreyas had played a match-winning knock during the ODI in Ahmedabad, and he would look to grab the opportunity of playing at the Eden Gardens -- his new "home ground".

Deepak Hooda also impressed after making his debut in the preceding ODI series and it remains to be seen if the big-hitting all-rounder is tried out in the T20Is. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, India have so far fielded the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Harshal Patel.

Both Bhuvneshwar and Patel have so far delivered the goods, especially in the second match when the former bowled a game-changing penultimate over before the rookie seamer defended 25 runs in the final over to secure a series-clinching win.

It remains to be seen whether Rohit would look to alter his bowling combination by bringing in Mohammed Siraj. The uncapped Avesh Khan, too, gives him an option. The pacer has been in good form in the last 12 months, bagging 14 wickets in 16 matches at an impressive economy rate of 7.37 in IPL 2021.

Fresh from their thrilling 3-2 victory at home over England, the Windies are yet to win a match in the ongoing tour of India, having lost the preceding ODI series 0-3.

In their favourite format, the Kieron Pollard-led side has failed to impress in the first match but, on Friday, the duo of Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran threatened to chase down India's 187 with explosive half-centuries.

Wicketkeeper-batter Pooran has been in imperious form, scoring a second successive half-century, and off-spinning all-rounder Roston Chase too has been impressive.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Deepak Hooda, Kuldeep Yadav and Harpreet Brar.

West Indies: Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Brandon King, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Kyle Mayers, Hayden Walsh Jr.

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