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Twenty20 cricket : India v West Indies : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta

twentyThe Virat Kohli-led Indian Test team in St. Lucia ensured an unassailable lead against a hapless West Indies team. At the start of the match, several pundits questioned the three changes implemented by the skipper, notably the inclusion of Rohit Sharma for Cheteshwar Pujara. Once thought to be a “mini-wall” for the India team and looking to emulate Rahul Dravid, it appears that Pujara’s lethargic batting during the West Indies tour might potentially bring about his downfall. It is a pity that this talented cricketer, whose true value is in the longer format of the game, may lose his spot in that very format.

There is one more Test match to go in this tour before some of the team members fly over the Atlantic Ocean to the Sunshine State of USA – Florida. Fans in the Chicago area were certainly very excited when it was announced that Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be coming to the US for the two matches. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently announced the squad for the two-match T20 International series against the West Indies to be played at Central Broward Regional Park in Florida.

The Indian selectors have included seamer Stuart Binny and leg spinner Amit Mishra for the two Twenty20 International series against West Indies. It was perhaps Hardik Pandya’s lacklustre form in the recent IPL season that made the selectors include Binny instead of the Baroda all-rounder. Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh will be engaged in the newly formatted Duleep Trophy tournament in India.

While it comes to Test cricket, India certainly have established their supremacy over the West Indies in this series. However, Twenty20 cricket will be a different subject for the West Indies. They are the reigning champions in this format and despite some internal issues, they will be a dangerous team anywhere.

There is a large crowd of West Indian supporters in Florida and they will be flocking to the stadium to support their World Champions. This is a tremendous boost for cricket in the US from a fan’s perspective. Organizationally, US Cricket Association leaves much to be desired and thankfully, despite this, the ICC and BCCI have ensured that cricket lovers in the United States get to see quality cricket.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “The ICC has approved these matches because we believe they can play a significant role in the long term development of cricket in the USA and our ongoing efforts to unify the USA cricket community.” He further added, “Having the ICC World T20 Champions playing India in Florida will undoubtedly inspire both existing and new fans and players.” Perhaps, more importantly, the sanction fees will be invested into the ICC’s ongoing work to lay a sustainable foundation for the development of cricket in America.”

Being quite positive about cricket in United States, Richardson noted, “This, along with ongoing investment from the ICC to help grow the sport in the USA will be used for specific programmes as part of the ICC’s long-term strategic framework in the USA. In line with this strategy we are working with our stakeholders in the USA on the development of a new constitution and governance structure that the entire USA cricket community can unify behind. We are absolutely focused on creating a sustainable structure to allow cricket to flourish at all levels in the US.”

The venue for the two upcoming T20 matches is Lauderhill, Florida. This stadium was built in 2007 and has been home to international cricket in the past hosting New Zealand v Sri Lanka in 2010 and subsequently West Indies v New Zealand.

Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium is a large county park in the town of Lauderhill. Besides being used for cricket, this facility has been used for practice facility for soccer players also.  I expect tremendous interest in these two matches and perhaps US cricket fans will continue to see more limited overs matches in other parts of the country as well.

The teams:

India: (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, Stuart Binny

West Indies: Carolos Brathwaite (captain) Andre Fletcher, Andre Russell, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis, Jason Holder, Johnson Charles, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine

All in all, it augers well for the fans of cricket in the United States.

Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta