With Virat Kohli rested for the three T20I against the West Indies, Rohit Sharma will lead India even as the 'end of Dhoni era' notion has been dismissed unequivocally by the management.
For the first time, India will be without the figure with a monumental body of work when they face West Indies in the opening T20 International.
Less than a week after two-time World Cup-winning skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was left out of India's T20I squad, captain Virat Kohli has said he remains an integral part of India's plans. Chief selector MSK Prasad also said the same.
Meanwhile, uncapped Krunal Pandya is all set for his India debut. The all-rounder was named in the 12-member squad on the eve of the match.
Under Jason Holder, West Indies were mauled 0-2 in the Test series in six days' of action. 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.
But it will not be an easy task for India against the Carlos Brathwaite-led team as the two-month long series begins its final leg, giving the visitors a chance to regain some pride.
Brathwaite will be back at the same venue where he hit four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes to break the hearts of English fans by winning their second World Twenty20 title in 2016.
The Windies, who missed the big names in the Test and ODI series, will be bolstered by the arrival of star players Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell, who will be back at his IPL home venue.
The stats also favour the World T20 holders who have a five-two record from eight exchanges from 2009-17.
India failed to overcome Brathwaite's men in their last four encounters and the Windies ended the home team's campaign in the 2016 T20I World Cup, defeating them in the semi-finals in Mumbai.
India's last win against West Indies came way back on March 23, 2014 in the World T20 in Bangladesh, and Sharma will have his task cut out in his quest to start well at his happy hunting ground.
The 31-year-old has a world record score of 264 in ODIs at the Eden Gardens in 2014, besides winning two IPL titles, in 2013 and 2015. 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.
Captaincy seems to bring out the best in Sharma who notched up 317 runs (average 105.66) in five innings in their title-winning campaign at the Asia Cup.
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.
Kohli's absence would mean KL Rahul will come into the picture while Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant are expected to add firepower in the middle order alongside Krunal Pandya.
Pant is expected to fulfil the wicket-keeping responsibilities while Karthik could take on one of the positions in the outfield.
The Indian seam attack will be led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, which now includes additional variation in the form of left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed.
In the spin department, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav will look to build on their chemistry. India have also named uncapped Krunal Pandya in the final 12.
The Eden centre strip promises to be full of runs, and batsmen from both sides will look to make merry.
All You Need To Know About The Match:
Date: November 4 (Sunday)
Time: 7 PM IST
Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
TV Guide: Star Sports Network
Live Streaming: Hotstar
- For the first time, India will play a home T20I without MS Dhoni.
- Kieron Pollard, who has played 147 T20s in IPL, is all set to play his maiden T20I in India.
- Rohit Sharma's batting average at the Eden Gardens, across formats, is 76.06, with four hundreds.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed
West Indies: Rovman Powell, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite (c), Denesh Ramdin (wk), Fabian Allen, Khary Pierre, Oshane Thomas, Obed McCoy
India XII: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, K Khaleel Ahmed.
West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite (c), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Oshane Thomas, Khary Pierre, Obed McCoy, Rovman Powell, Nicholas Pooran.
(With PTI inputs)