Hyderabad: One team are looking at the World Cup 10 months away. The other, at least more than half the side, have their eyes on the IPL auction two weeks later. India and West Indies will have different mindsets as they kick off their three-match Twenty20 series at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here on Friday.
The hosts have begun casting the side for the big one to be held in Australia in October-November next year and have an abundance of riches to sift through before firming up the final 15 that will take on the world. Captain Virat Kohli made that clear on match-eve.
The focus would largely be on opener K. L. Rahul and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who would view this series as another precious chance to impress the powers that be.
Pant in particular will be keen to prove that is not just a shot-circuit explosive batsman and that there is prudence behind his power play in front of the wickets. He needs to buck up behind them as well, and come good with the big gloves to cement his spot in the side, moreso with Mahendra Singh Dhoni not yet hanging his flannels and Wriddhiman Saha and Sanju Samson providing options.
Talking of comebacks, there are quite a few. Kohli is back to leading the T20 side after taking a break to sit out of the Bangladesh series. Also back in the T20 fold are Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and Kuldeep Yadav.
The pace battery looks charged up as Bhuvneshwar, Shami and Deepak Chahar can be a handful while spin twins Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal could come up with twists.
The West Indies can’t quite be called visitors for now. They have been in India for over a month now, having played Afghanistan in ODIs and T20 series in Lucknow. The two-time T20 World Cup winners lost the short format 1-2 to the minnows though.
Captain Kieron Pollard has a task on hand to lead the youngsters from the front in the absence of big names such as Carlos Brathwaite, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo. He will also need to keep their minds away from the December 19 IPL auction, at which a lot of his teammates would be vying for prized positions.
Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer have been released from the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore squads respectively, of which Pollard and Kohli are key players. They would want to make more than a point in the series that ends on December 11, and get the cash registers ringing.
The competition is tough though — with 34 West Indians among 258 foreigners vying for the 29 overseas players’ spots available across eight teams — but they couldn’t have asked for a better platform, especially with Kohli’s RCB having the most vacancies, at six.
And so, trust Sheldon Cottrell, Lendl Simmons, Brandon King, Khary Pierre, Keserick Williams, Hayden Walsh would be swinging to MC’s Hammer Time! That makes for a full-on Friday night party....