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India’s Top-Order Under Pressure In Must-Win Game, Spinners Need To Stop Nicholas Pooran Juggernaut

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Providence (Guyana), Aug 7 (PTI): Staring at a rare series defeat in the Caribbean, India will need to bat with the fearlessness required in the shortest format when they face the West Indies in the must-win third T20 International here Tuesday.

The slow pitches on offer have not been the best for batting but as skipper Hardik Pandya pointed out after the loss on Sunday, India should have found a way to score additional 10-20 runs.

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India, who last lost to the West Indies in a bilateral T20 series back in 2016, trail 0-2 in the five-match series.

The shortest format demands the batters to go hard from ball one and that is something India’s top-order, comprising Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav, have not been able to do.

The top-order’s failure has put extra pressure on the likes of Sanju Samson and rookie Tilak Varma, who has taken to international cricket like fish to water.

With focus on ODIs in a World Cup year, Gill, Kishan and Suryakumar would want to be amongst runs ahead of the Asia Cup beginning August 31.

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“Batters need to take more responsibility,” Hardik’s message was clear to the batters following the two-wicket loss here on Sunday.

India have been playing with a long tail with Axar Patel batting at seven to maintain the balance of the side and it is unlikely to change in the next game.

India’s in-form spinner Kuldeep Yadav missed Sunday’s game due to a sore thumb and it remains to be seen if he is available for selection.

The bowlers, especially the spinners, need to find a way to contain a rampaging Nicholas Pooran. The southpaw has been batting with disdain against the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Bishnoi. Left-arm spinner Axar was not even used in the last game.

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Hardik and Arshdeep Singh were able to swing the new ball in the second game and would be looking to repeat that on Tuesday.

Chahal, playing after a gap of two months, has been impressive in the series. Bishnoi’s frequent googlies were not able to put pressure on the opposition, forcing him to rethink about his plans.

Pacer Mukesh Kumar has leaked most runs for India and there is a possibility that he could be replaced with Avesh Khan or Umran Malik.

West Indies are in an ideal position for their first series win over India since 2016.

Like the opposition, West Indies’ top-order too has not been amongst runs with Pooran left to do the heavy lifting. The hosts would want to change that.

The likes of Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer will once again be looking to take the attack to the Indian spinners.

The home team’s bowlers have done well to keep India in check and will be keen to maintain that with series on the line.

“It’s a very good position to be in. Since 2016 we haven’t won T20 series (against India),” said West Indies skipper Rovman Powell.

Squads (from):

India: Ishan Kishan (wk), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tilak Varma, Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Sanju Samson (wk), Hardik Pandya (c), Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar.

West Indies: Rovman Powell (c), Kyle Mayers (vc), Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Obed McCoy, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Oshane Thomas.

Match starts at 8 pm IST.

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