WT20 Semi-Final Preview: West Indies v India

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West Indies cricket has been in disarray for years, but when you only need to concentrate for 40 overs at a time, and when your incompetent administration essentially consigns to cricketers to focus on the Twenty20 format of the game, you have a recipe for success in at least one tournament – this one. India have scraped through to the semi-final stage by the skin of their teeth, with wins over Bangladesh and Australia hardly as convincing as they would have liked. Regardless, with a home ground advantage in conditions wholly suited to their squad, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t give them a strong chance of winning the trophy.

ICC WT20 Semi Final: West Indies v India – Wankhede Stadium, (Mumbai)

Wankhede Stadium and Pitch Analysis

The Wankhede Stadium has been the highest-scoring ground on show at the World T20. First innings totals of 182, 229 and 209 have been compiled with ease, whilst two of those efforts were chased down. Expect the pitch to dry out a little, but for the most part we should be in for a fairly entertaining contest. Such a pitch plays into the hands of the West Indies. Chris Gayle – who scored a century at this ground earlier this month – and company don’t have the most accomplished techniques in world cricket, but they’re powerful, aggressive and use heavier bats than the majority of professional players. All of this is conducive to playing with commitment through the line of the ball, something which is notable assisted by consistent bounce and pace.

India will look to take pace off the ball as a result of this, with Ashwin, Pandya and Jadeja the more accomplished in this art. Pandya’s short length could be found out if the ball skids on however, whilst Ashwin and Jadeja have always struggled to bowl outside on pitches which don’t offer much to the bowler. Jadeja won’t even bowl if Chris Gayle is still at the crease, meaning India will need his wicket early to avoid disturbing their bowling rotation.

Only twice in the last 9 IPL fixtures at the venue has a side batting first failed to reach 175, whilst Gayle and Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore managed to post 235/1 in their visit to Wankhede last year. Regardless of how the pitch is prepared, runs are to be expected, and whilst on paper you may associate the West Indies’ side with greater power-hitting, the likes of Rohit Sharma (who has played more T20 cricket at this ground than almost any other player in world cricket), Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh have the potential to demolish a West Indies attack which relies heavily on the economy of Samuel Badree.

Team Selection

West Indies

Chris Gayle will return for the semi-final, and should thrive in the conditions that present themselves. Whilst he has only played one meaningful innings this tournament, a 48-ball century against England, it was at this very venue. In all, his technique and mindset is suited to bullying bowlers on a flat pitch, and should we see similar conditions to what have been on offer at Wankhede so far this tournament, he will be the most dangerous player on the field by far.

West Indies Probable XI: Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne bravo, Andrew Russell, Darren Sammy (c), Carlos Braithwaite, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn.

India

India boast one of the few Twenty20 squads in world cricket, partly because they rotate their personnel very little. As a result, don’t expect any changes ahead of the semi-final. The out of form opening pairing of Sharma and Dhawan have too much up-side to be dropped, whilst the bowling attack has really demonstrated versatility with the emergence of Pandya and the return of Yuvraj to the bowling ranks against Australia.

India Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (c, wk), Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra

Key Match-Ups

Chris Gayle v Virat Kohli

Two of the more destructive batsmen in world cricket, Gayle has the higher ceiling regardless of how well Kohli has been playing. His 11 sixes in his 48-ball century made batting look insultingly easy, and whilst India’s attack should be more suited to bowling in home conditions than England’s was, India’s attack isn’t glaringly superior to the likes of Adil Rashid and David Willey. Runs will be put up in this match, but whatever the West Indies muster, Virat Kohli would be capable of chasing it. He is by far the greatest T20 batsman of all time. His statistics are Bradman-esque and unless he finds a way to get himself running down the pitch to Badree, we don’t see him failing here. The side winning the toss will prefer to chase, but being able to chase is far more important to India than it is the West Indies, purely because of Kohli’s ability.

Dwayne Bravo v Ashish Nehra

Samuel Badree has been the best West Indian bowler at this tournament, but the conditions in Mumbai lend themselves to bowlers with the capacity to hit the pitch hard. Chris Morris and Kyle Abbott have been the most successful bowlers at the tournament so far here, and were so on the back of persisting with a shorter length. Bravo and Nehra both have that ability, and whilst Bravo has the greater variations, Nehra has the ability to swing the ball, especially in a night game – something which has the capacity to completely change the match if he dislodges Gayle early.

Notable Statistics

Of the past 9 IPL fixtures to be played in Mumbai, 7 have been won by the team batting first.

  • This trend has reversed in the World T20, with two of three chasing sides winning despite having to chase in excess of 180 both times.

Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya are both Mumbai Indians, meaning that they are two of the more experienced limited-overs crickets at Wankhede Stadium.

  • Neither thrived in 2015 however. Pandya played just a couple of matches and didn’t contribute with bat or ball, whilst Sharma made several starts but never made a big score.

India have won 13 of their 15 T20s played in 2016. They’ve chased 9 times (8 wins) and defended 6 times (5 wins).

  • West Indies have chased in all four of their T20 internationals this year. They’ve won all except their loss to Afghanistan.

West Indies v India Preview and Final Prediction

On their day, the West Indies can beat anyone in world cricket, particularly in the Twenty20 format as most of their players focus almost exclusively on it. Playing against India, in India however is an exceptional challenge. The crowd, combined with the media and social pressure on the likes of Dhoni and Kohli is immense, and it is a pressure often handled with great succes.

West Indies are a side suited to chasing. They can score at any pace, so when setting a total they can often under-estimate the surface and rely on their inferior bowling attack. Sammy has chosen to chase at every opportunity this tournament so don’t expect a change here given history favours batting second. We’re confident India will win if they bat second, but can they stave off a powerful batting line-up if the West Indies chase? It is difficult to determine because the West Indies chances are solely on the shoulders of Chris Gayle. If he hits another unbeaten century off 48 balls, there is no way they lose, but if he fails it is very difficult to see them winning. On a flat pitch, it will be very hard to contain him and with Jadeja’s left arm orthodox likely to go to journey if he has to bowl to Gayle, India could run out of bowling options quickly.

West Indies Top Batsman: Chris Gayle

India Top Batsman: Virat Kohli

West Indies Top Bowler: Dwayne Bravo

India Top Bowler: Ashish Nehra

Match Prediction: Side chasing has a big advantage. India to win by 5 wickets or West Indies to win by 3 wickets.

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On twitter @rombarbera. Australian sports by day, international sports by night. Co-founder of Blindside Sport. Fantasy sport addict.

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